(part 1)

“Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another ...” (1 Thessalonians 4:9).

Godliness’ foundation manner is "agape" love. The Greek language (the primary, original language of the New Testament) used four words for love. The English language has only one word for love.

The Greek word often used in the New Testament is some form of "agape." Its uniqueness is this: It is not based on feeling (emotion), but on intent. One treats others as he or she wishes to be treated. This treatment is not based on how the Christian is treated, but on how God and Jesus Christ would behave.

Four scriptures come to my mind quickly when I consider the loving Christian.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:46-48).

Even if I do not feel positively toward you, I treat you with respect as does my God.

“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10).

A Christian seeks good for all. He or she “goes beyond the anticipated” in doing good to other believing, repenting, baptized Christians.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

The ability and willingness to show love’s respect is the primary mark of discipleship among Christians.

“... We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Few care what we know until they see what we know affecting our behavior, making us better people. Until a Christian’s knowledge leads to love, it produces arrogance.

Two of these statements were made by Jesus. Two were made by Paul. All four address extremely difficult situations: (1) the treatment of those you do not like; (2) the treatment of weak Christians who fall to temptation; (3) the understanding that service is superior to control; (4) idolatry [that affected most gentile Christians].

For 2,000 years horrible things have happened in God’s family when Christians have failed to understand the manners of love.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 26 April 2007

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