About Love

Nothing is more costly than loving -except not loving.

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." John 15:13 New King James Version

I find this story by  Kierkegard to be a beautiful description of God's love for humankind:

"Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden.
How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very kinglyness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist--no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind. Would she be happy at his side? How could he know?
If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross over the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.
The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosely about him. It was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on. He renounced the throne to win her hand." -- paraphrase of Soren Kierkegaard, 'Philosophical Fragments'.

What Kierkegard expressed in parable form, the apostle Paul expressed in these words about Jesus the Christ:

"who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!"

In his dealings with human beings, God had often humbled himself. The Old Testament is a record of his con-descensions (to descend to be with). God condescended in various ways to speak to Abraham, and to Moses, and to the nation
of Israel and the prophets. But no condescension could match what came next, after the four hundred years of silence.

But no condescension could match what came next,after the four hundred years of silence. God, like the king, took on a new form: he became a man. It was the most shocking descent imaginable. -Philip Yancey

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 14:5 NIV

Love (agape) is unconditional, sacrificial love and a love that God is (1Jn 4:8,16), that God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and which God gives by means of His Spirit's production in the heart of a yielded saint, the constituent elements of this fruit being described by Paul in this famous section of Scripture. Agape is the caring, self-sacrificing commitment which shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved. Jesus Christ, in His sacrificial death on the Cross, is clearly the epitome and embodiment of agape love.

Various excerpts from John MacArthur about Agape Love:

Biblical agapÄ“ love is not an emotion but a disposition of the heart to seek the welfare and meet the needs of others. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus said (John 15:13). And that is exactly what Jesus Himself did on behalf of those God has chosen to be saved. In the ultimate divine act of love, God determined before the foundation of the earth that He would give His only Son to save us." (MacArthur, J: Ephesians)

Divine love is unconditional love, love that depends entirely on the one who loves and not on the merit, attractiveness, or response of the one loved. Christ did not simply have a deep feeling and emotional concern for mankind. Nor did He sacrifice Himself for us because we were deserving. God’s love, and all love that is like His, loves for the sake of giving, not getting. With conditional love, if the conditions are not met there is no obligation to love. If we do not get, we do not give. But God’s makes no conditions for His love to us and commands that we love others without conditions. There is no way to earn God’s love or to deserve it by reason of human goodness.
Agape is impossible for unconverted to manifest this divine love & in fact it is impossible even for a believer to demonstrate it in his own strength. It can only be exhibited by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. A believer has this love (divine nature) within (Col 1:27) and it is progressively manifest more and more as fruit by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22) as we obey God's truth.

Romantic, emotional love between husband and wife ebbs and flows, and sometimes disappears altogether. But loss of romantic love is never an appropriate excuse for dissolving a marriage, because the love that God specifically commands husbands to have for their wives is agape love (see notes Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 3:19; Titus 2:4) —love like His own undeserved love for us, love that is based on willful choice in behalf of the one loved, regardless of emotions, attraction, or deserving. Romantic love enhances and beautifies the relationship between husband and wife, but the binding force of a Christian marriage is God’s own kind of love, the love that loves because it is the divine nature to love. It is the love of giving, not of getting; and even when it ceases to get, it continues to give. Where there is the sacrificial love of willful choice, there is also likely to be the love of intimacy, feeling, and friendship (philia)...

Those who are given God’s nature through Jesus Christ are commanded to love as God loves. In Christ, it is now our nature to love just as it is God’s nature to love—because His nature is now our nature. For a Christian not to love is for him to live against his own nature as well as against God’s. Lovelessness is therefore more than a failure or shortcoming. It is sin, willful disobedience of God’s command and disregard of His example." (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. 1986. Chicago: Moody Press)

Lord, teach us the secret of loving,  
The love You are asking today;  
Then help us to love one another -  
For this we most earnestly pray. - Anon.

Unfailing is Christ's matchless love,
So kind, so pure, so true;
And those who come to know that love  
Show love in all they do.- Dennis J. De Haan

                                                  We learn the true meaning of love
when we look at how much Christ loved us.

As Christ's love grows in us His love flows through us.
Follow with reverent steps the great example 
Of Him whose holy work was doing good;  
So shall the wide earth seem our Father's temple,  
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude. --Whittier

Love is an active verb!

Many people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them. Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way. Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words "I love you" to our spouses, children, friends or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they've lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us. The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is a poor self-image. Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God's love. You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father's goodness and mercy-so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We're not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we're coming to Him based on His grace; and our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as 'beneath His grace' is to trample on His loving, generous gift. God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved and struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father's love for you-and do sink it deep into your heart. Receive the truth that reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

(based on John 4:7-12 by In Touch Ministries)

Our culture is in love with the idea of being in love. It's in our movies, music and literature. Yet, while it's easy to fall in love, is it possible to stay in love? This is a great message by Andy Stanley!

How to stay in love by Andy Stanley (Part 1)
In Touch Ministries, audio-archives, Feb.13, 2012

How to stay in love  (Part 2)
In Touch Ministries, audio-archives, Feb.14, 2012

To love at all is to be vulnerable. 
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

To love is to be vulnerable.

 -C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Happy Valentines Day!

Vulnerably yours,  

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