LOVE IN THE HOME
Is it Possible?
It is easy to love people when they are nice to you, isn’t it? It is easy to feel “in love" with your husband when he is amicable to you. It is easy to love your children when they behave the right way. But, what happens when friends and family say nasty things behind your back? How do you feel when your husband is argumentative, or even hostile? Or perhaps even disinterested in you? You don’t feel he loves you any more and your love for him has gone out the door. What about when your children are driving you crazy? What if they disrespect you, or even abuse you? What do you do then?
If love was dependent upon how people react to us, it would not survive. Many relationships are difficult. Sometimes it is easier to feel hate rather than love. But without love family life would fall apart. I am sure you are familiar with the different Greek words for love. The first is eros which is sexual love. It gives pleasure to the senses. It is a God-given love but this kind of love is not enough to hold a marriage together for life. It takes other kinds of love—phileo, storge (which is similar to phileo) and agape.
Phileo is tender affectionate love. It is the love we feel with our emotions. When Paul exhorts the older women to teach the younger women to “love their husbands and to love their children” he uses the word phileo. God wants wives to be affectionate to their husbands. He wants them to be best friends. He wants mothers to tenderly love their children, to nurture, comfort and nourish them. Some marriages live happily together all their lives when both show phileo love to one another. But when phileo love turns off in either the husband or wife, then there are problems. It is then we need another kind of love.
This other kind of love was rarely mentioned in Greek literature until Jesus came. He introduced a love that goes beyond natural feelings and passions. Agape love is God’s love. It is the very character of God. It keeps on loving even when abused and hated. It keeps loving even when the person is ugly and horrible. Agape loves because it wills to love, whereas phileo loves according to how we feel. Agape loves indiscriminately, whereas phileo discriminates. Agape loves unconditionally, whereas phileo is conditional. Agape loves in spite of, whereas phileo loves because of. Agape love never fails, whereas phileo love often fails.
Phileo and agape are both necessary in marriage and family life, and, of course, in all relationships. God loved His son, Jesus Christ with phileo and agape love. To have a successful marriage, or to love in the face of hurt and rejection, we have to add agape to our phileo love. We need agape love for the long haul.
Peter urges us to add agape love to our human affectionate love, “Add to godliness brotherly kindness (philadelphia); and to brotherly kindness love (agape)” (2 Peter 1:7 and 1:22 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9).
Agape love is not in you or me! Agape love is only in Christ. 1 Timothy 1:14 and 2 Timothy 1:13 speak about “the love which is Christ Jesus.” The amazing revelation is that Christ Jesus lives in you and me! Because He lives in us by His Holy Spirit, agape love is in us! In Christ we can love with agape love! This is supernatural. Can you believe it? As we believe it, affirm it, confess it and walk in it by faith, we can love the unlovely, love when abused, love when rejected, love when despitefully used. Oh the power of redemption. Jesus Christ not only redeems us from our sin, but indwells us by His Holy Spirit with all His love, joy, peace and longsuffering.
Agape love cannot be described in one word. As I read through the New Testament I found over 30 descriptions of agape love. Join with me as we discover more of what agape love is all about.
Agape love is not hypocritical. The Knox translation calls it “unaffected love." It is unaffected by circumstances or the behavior of the person.
Genuine and Sincere Love
Romans 12:9 says “Let your love be sincere” (Also2 Corinthians 8:8)
“By love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). The word serve is doueuo which means to serve like a slave. We don’t serve because we are a slave. We serve because we love. Many times you can feel overwhelmed by the tasks you face as a mother. There is so much work to do. Every sweet little child adds more work. Your husband expects you to do this and do that. Change your thinking. Don’t think of yourself as a servant. Think love. Love loves to serve. Love serves with delight.
“Forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2.) Forbearing means to endure and put up with those who are difficult to put up with! It means to bear patiently with idiosyncrasies that annoy you. This kind of love bears lovingly with the weaknesses of those in your home. I love the Way’s translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4 which says, “Love is long-forbearing.” (By the way, Arthur Way’s translation is a very accurate translation, printed over 100 years ago).
“Love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1; Ephesians 4:16). Love does not pull down. It builds up. Agape love builds up and encourages your husband even when all you can see are his faults. Love looks beyond the faults and finds good things to affirm and encourage. Agape love delights to build up and encourage each one of your children.
“Abound in love one toward another” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Agape love is not average love. It is not even a “full to the top” love. It is “flowing over the top” love! The word Greek word, abound is perisseuo. It is an amazing word. It means to "super-abound, to be excessive, to excel, to increase, to have enough and to spare." This reminds me of something I read years ago, “If a little bit of love isn’t effective, increase the dose.” A little bit of love is not enough for many situations. You can only have the victory with massive amounts of love. It is only abounding love that overflows.
Philippians 2:1-2 talks about “Love’s comforting power.” Oh the bliss of comforting love.
Knitting Together Love
Agape love has the power to knit cold and estranged hearts together. (Colossians 2:2) Try it!
Love is not only a nice feeling. We prove our love by working hard to bless those God has put in our family. Paul calls it a “labor of love” in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Be encouraged. When you feel worn out because you have been working hard to care for your family, remember that your hard work is a labor of love! Work is love; and love is work!It is not in vain. God notices. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
We can also be encouraged from John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” The word deed means "to toil." This is how we show our love. By toiling and laboring hard for those we love. The Way’s translation calls it, “Your toil born of love.” The Knox translation says, “Let us show our love by the true test of action.” We could also call it “actionary" love. It is not just words, but actions.
The consummation of God’s commandment is love that flows from a pure heart. 1 Timothy 1:5 Way says, “The end and object of God’s commandment is the kindling of love, such as springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and unfeigned faith.” 1 Peter 1:22 enjoins us to love one another with a pure heart.
“Be ye kind to one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Love is not love that does not forgive. Even when Jesus faced the greatest abuse that any human could endure, He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Romans 5:7-8, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves us, not because we deserve His love, but because He is love. God’s love dwells in us by His Spirit, therefore we also love, not because people deserve it, but because we cannot help loving. We love in spite of whether the person is worthy of our love. This is agape love.
1 Peter 1:22 tells us to “love one another with a pure heart, fervently.” Also read 1 Peter 4:8. Other translations help us to understand more of what fervently means—heartily, intensely, earnestly, deeply from the heart, wholeheartedly with all your strength, as if your lives depended upon it.” Agape love is not insipid. We don’t love half-heartedly but whole-heartedly!
Never Giving Up Love
We see this love revealed in Jesus when it says in John 13:1, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” It is easy to love someone at the beginning, but when they become difficult, defiant, or refuse to receive love, it is tempting to give up. Natural love easily gives up. It is only agape love that keeps on loving until the end, no matter what.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:15, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved.” Maybe you have experienced this also. You pour out love but it is not reciprocated. Don’t give up. Keep loving. Better still, increase your love.
Ephesians 5:2 says, “Walk in love, as Christ loves us and gave himself up for us.” Love is not stagnant. It is not something we leave behind when we start each day. It should walk with us into the kitchen each morning. It should walk with us all through the day, especially when situations become difficult. It should walk with us wherever we walk. I love Way’s translation, “Walk, in ways of love, love like Messiah’s love for us…”
2 Corinthians 8:7 says, “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing… and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.”Once again, I sight Way’s translation of this Scripture, “Full you are to overflowing… of the love that leaps from your hearts to mine…”What an exciting description of love. I think of a frog jumping from one rock to another. Can you get the picture of love leaping from one heart to another within your family? This is even more than Walking Love. Leaping love is vibrant, pulsating, and overflowing. It can‘t stay in the heart. It constantly leaps from one member to another within the home. Pray that God will fill all your hearts with leaping love for one another. This is what you call exciting living!
1 Peter 1:22 in the Knox translation says, “Purify your souls with the discipline of love…” Love takes discipline. To live an undisciplined life is selfish. It is not thinking of others, but only of one’s self. To sleep in late, to let the household chores pile up, and to let the home get disorderly because of an undisciplined life is not love. Disciplinary love makes sure meals are ready on time. It makes sure meals are tasty and nutritious. It makes sure the home is orderly so everyone enjoys living in it.Even though it takes effort, true love will be disciplined to keep things in ship shape for the blessing of everyone in the home.
1 John 3:16 says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Jesus revealed pure agape love when He, who was God, laid down His life for us who were sinners. This is the greatest sacrificial love. And yet, in the same way, He asks us to lay down our life for others. This certainly does not come naturally, does it? It is only when we allow God’s agape love to operate in our lives that we can walk in sacrificial love.
Romans 8:37-39, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Neither difficult circumstances nor difficult relationships! But even more amazing, if we are born again by the Spirit of God, this conquering love is in us. Nothing can stop it.
“Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4). The Greek word for longsuffering love is makrothumeo which means "to be longsuffering as opposed to be given to hasty anger; to endure patiently as opposed to despondency; and is used of exercising patience towards people." How easy it is to get impatient with those we love. They don’t come up to our standards. They take so long to do something. They can’t grasp what we are trying to teach them. They exasperate us. But God’s agape love that resides within us is full of patience. Instead of waiting in despair, it waits in hope, believing that God is working and will work to fulfill His purposes.
James 5:7-10 gives the illustration of the farmer who has “long patience” to wait for the harvest of his seed. In the same way, we often need long patience as we wait to see God work in those we love. Instead of getting impatient and despondent, claim the promise of Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Every day, thank the Lord for the good work He is doing in your husband and your children.
“Love is very kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). The word in the Greek is chresteumai and means "to treat as one’s own family, to show oneself useful, to act benevolently." One writer said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Love gives! Constantly gives. Love gives tangible gifts, but love also gives reassurance, encouragement, smiles, and cuddles. And perhaps the biggest gift that love gives is time! Time is a love-gift. “Love ever gives, forgives, outlives, and while it lives, it gives! For this is love’s prerogative, to give and give and give!”
We must also remember to give kind words. The testimony of the Proverbs 31 woman is that “in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). It is the law of love. The word kindness in this Scripture is the Hebrew word chesed which is one of the most important words in the Old Testament. It relates closely to the word "grace" in the New Testament. It describes God’s unfailing love, kindness, devotion, favor, mercy, and grace toward us. This is the kind of vocabulary that should flow lovingly from our tongues. May God anoint us and help us!
“Love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Humility is the revelation of love. It was love that caused Jesus, who was God, to make himself of no reputation, to become a servant, to humble himself and to become obedient to the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-8).
“Love is not rude” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love does not speak rudely but is always polite and sweet.
“Love is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). The New Living Translation says, “Love does not demand its own way.”
“Love is not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). It does not get irritated easily. It is does not fly off the handle. It is not touchy or prickly. It refuses to take offence.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 5-6 NIV). This is a challenge, isn’t it? The flesh enjoys remembering the hurts and spiteful words that have been spoken, but agape love forgives and forgets. It clears the record. Sometimes it has to clear the record daily. Maybe more than once a day!
“Love bears all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). The word “beareth” is stego which comes from a root word meaning "to roof over, to cover with silence, to protect or preserve by covering, forbearing." True love is not wishy washy. We may not always be popular with our children when we restrain them from watching certain movies or stop them from going certain places, but we love their souls too much to allow them to be deceived by the allurements of the devil. We protect them (not only their bodies, but their minds, emotions and souls), even though we may have to bear the brunt of their complaining attitude.
“Love believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). My dear father (who recently passed away at nearly 92 years of age) always believed in me. He believed that I would walk righteously for God. He believed that I would do great things for God. I didn’t believe in myself, but he believed in me. His faith in me helped me to rise above my own inadequate feelings of myself. Agape love believes in your husband and children, even when you cannot see any evidence in front of you.
It takes faith to walk in agape love. We cannot do it in the flesh. Many times we have no feelings of love left. They’ve flown out the window! Don’t worry. We can now clock into God’s love to speak love, give love and smile love. Yes, even when our flesh feels the very opposite. We have to speak words of love by faith. There are many times that you may not “feel” in love with your husband, but in faith you can say, “I love you” anyway. As you confess love, your feelings will change to love. Do not gauge love by your feelings. Agape love has nothing to do with feelings. It is a commitment to love.
Faith and love are twins that go hand in glove. Galatians 5:6 talks of “faith which worketh by love.” The word “worketh” in the Greek is energeo from where we get our word “energy." In other words, faith is energized or activated by love. Love is energized by faith.
“Love hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). We love in hope rather than despair. Love never regards anyone as hopeless!
“Love endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Do you notice that it says all things? Help! Does that really mean all things? That’s what it says. Phileo love may not endure the long haul. It may endure some things, but it has a limit. Agape love endures all things. We would not see so many marriages falling apart in the church today if couples realized that God’s enduring agape love can rule in their hearts. I know a very dear couple who have been married for nearly 50 years. The early years of their marriage were traumatic, hurtful and despairing. But they stuck it out. They did not believe in divorce. God honored their endurance and over the years God’s love blended their hearts together. They now reap the reward of enjoying a beautiful love/friendship marriage in the latter years of their lives.
William Barclay’s translation of this Scripture says, “Love can stand any kind of treatment” and The New English Bible says, “There is nothing love cannot face.”Wow! Natural love fades away when there is abuse from a husband, or even children. It is only agape love that can take it. We have to keep reminding ourselves that agape love is God’s love and if we are born again by the Spirit of God, it abides in us! It is ours!
Never Failing Love
“Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).I cannot make a better comment than the J.B. Phillip’s translation, “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen.”
“And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Abiding love does not hate one day and love the next. It remains the same and remains to the end, despite feelings.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Agape love does not fear to love. It does not fear for itself. It continues to love in the face of situations that would naturally cause fear. The Knox translation of 1 John 4:18 says, “Love has no room for fear; and indeed, love drives out fear when it is perfect love…The man who is still afraid has not yet reached the full measure of love.”
Shedding Abroad Love
“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). If you are born again, the Holy Spirit indwells you; if He indwells you, His love is shed abroad in your heart. The word "shed" comes from the Hebrew word shad which means "breast." It speaks of the pouring forth of sacrificial and maternal love.
Why not stop now and affirm these words out loud, “The love of God is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit.” Did you notice that it says, IS? It does not say, “It might be.” It does not say, “One day when you get to heaven.” It says that it IS shed abroad in your heart right now! Yes, even when you are feeling the opposite. It is important to confess this wonderful truth out loud. As you do, it will become more and more your personal experience.
We have reached the last point. I have been convicted of each one of these revelations of agape love. But more than all the others, God is speaking to me about reactionary love. What do I mean by this? I want it to become my habit in life to react with love. To react with love to every vibe, word, or action that is negative, abusive, or hurtful. What a challenge! When a glass is bumped, what spills out? Whatever is in the glass! In the same way, what is inside me will immediately spill over. My longing is that when I am rubbed the wrong way, when things don’t go my way, when words are spoken that would ordinarily make me mad that I would automatically respond with love.
Jesus gave us the example. He reacted with love and forgiveness. He told us to react to our enemies with love (Matthew 5:39, 44).
Paul gave us the example. When he was reviled, he reacted with blessing (1 Corinthians 4:12).
Peter tells us to not pay back injury with injury, or hard words with hard words, but to react back with a blessing instead (1 Peter 3:9).
How can I do this? I certainly can’t with my earthly nature. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit. The amazing truth is that I am filled with the love of God because of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. Therefore it is possible.
Unfeigned Love, Romans 12:9; 2 Corinthians 6:6 and 1 Peter 1:22.
Abounding Love, 2 Corinthians 8:7; Philippians 1:9; and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
Sacrificial Love, Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 5:25.
Believing Love, Ephesians 1:15; 6:23; Colossians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 and 1 Timothy 1:5 and 2:15.
Reactionary Love, Leviticus 19:18; Proverbs 20:22; 24:29; Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14, 17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:15.