The Greatest is Love
If the entire bible is summarized into one word, it would be ‘love’, for God is love. Man’s greatest need, apart from food, water and shelter, is love. The greatest pain a man can feel is being unloved. We are created out of love. Everything about us comprises of love, yet there is so little we know about love.
In the New Testament, love in Greek is translated into four different words: Storge, Philia, Eros and Agape.
- Storge: This love is expressed in families, between parents and children, brothers and sisters and close relatives.
- Philia: Is a brotherly love we have for one another.
- Eros: This is intimate love, which God has meant to be shared only in the intimacy of marriage.
- Agape: This is the highest form of love, which God has for us. This love is sacrificial and committed.
But the kind of love the world knows are storge, philia and eros. Christians are called to love God and each other with the agape love. We cannot produce this love on our own, but only when we abide fully in Jesus Christ. We develop the fruit of the Spirit, by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.
Love expressed as storge, philia and eros are incomplete forms of love. Love is in its perfect form when its agape love. Parents have storge love for their daughters and sons, but they have difficultly loving their daughter-in-laws and son-in-laws the same way because storge love is incomplete, whereas agape love shows no partiality. The world and even many Christians don’t know about agape love and therefore unlovingness towards in-laws is a universal problem.
When someone is good towards you, it is easy to be good in return. This kind of love between friends is philia love. However, when someone hurts you, it is difficult for people to be good to them and forgive them because philia love is partial. Jesus said ‘love your enemies’. It is through agape love we can love our enemies, overcome evil with good and pray for those who persecute us. Sometimes, people have a firm desire to forgive others but they struggle with unforgiveness. Agape love enables us to forgive others, because agape love is not based on the goodness in others but the goodness of God dwelling within us.
It is common for many couples to be intensely in eros love. However, when the initial attraction wears off or they have problems in their relationship, they despise each other and become enemies. Many marriages end up in divorce because eros love has its limitation. Agape love does not seek its own good but the good of others. Agape love never fails nor does it come to an end because agape love never divorces.
The greatest purpose of man is to love. When people fail to love, they hurt each other and do evil. Where there is no love, selfishness and wickedness prevail. When we fail to experience agape love, we fail to fulfil the purpose of our lives, which is to live fully the abundant life God have planned for us.
Without love we live our lives like the bird that never learnt to fly, the fish that never learnt to swim and the stallion that never learnt to gallop. All the destruction, pain and sorrow that people go through in their lives comes from not knowing and receiving God’s love.
The bible describes this agape love in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a NIV. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, 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.
God loved us so greatly that He gave His life for us. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15: 13 NIV). This love is not based on feelings, but is self-sacrificing for the good of others. We can love because God loved us first and He has poured this love in our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19 NIV.
Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The other eight fruits defining love are:
Joy, which is love rejoicing;
Peace, which is love resting;
Patience (longsuffering), which is love waiting;
Kindness, which is love sharing;
Goodness, which is love witnessing;
Faithfulness, which is love being trustworthy;
Meekness (humility, gentleness), which is love submitting; and
Self-control (temperance), which is love surrendering.
Love, joy and peace are the fruits that signifies our relationship with God.\
Patience, kindness and goodness are the fruits that signifies our relationship with others.
Faithfulness, meekness and self-control are the fruits that help us in our relationship with ourselves before God.
When we can love truly as Christ loves us, we will be joyful even when facing trouble. We can be at peace in the midst of turmoil because our mind is focused on Him. We can suffer long for the wellbeing of others. We are able to share with those who lack. We are courageous to do good in spite of all the persecution. We remain faithful in all trials, humbly being obedient to God’s word and surrender completely to His will. These nine fruits of the Holy Spirit help us to love God, others and ourselves.