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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Mark 12:31 (NASB)
Perhaps you have seen those memes titled “You had one job!” These memes feature a picture of a job that should have been simple, but the person completing the task made a humorous mistake. For example, I’ve seen ones with highway lines that were painted crooked, school signs that were misspelled, and a playground slide that was installed so the child sliding landed in the street.
God gives us two jobs. The first seems simple enough: to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second; however, seems to go wrong a lot—at least for me: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Maybe you can relate.
The term “love” is thrown around loosely. But there are those times when love isn’t so easy. For example, when we are challenged to forgive, rise above hurt, place others first, and pour out the God-given gift of love. It’s at those times when I remember the words: love through Jesus.
On my own, I struggle to love as God commands. I am a sinner—saved by grace, yes—but nonetheless a human being who feels anger, jealousy, betrayal, and selfishness. And when those thoughts and feelings arise, I have to take them captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). If I don’t, they take me captive! They take my thoughts away from Jesus, who asked me to love my enemies and pray for my persecutors (Matthew 5:44). And that’s what He did for us! We were once enemies of God, but Jesus intervened. He loved us and gave Himself for us (Romans 5:8).
What’s more challenging is to understand what love means in today’s verse. It isn’t phileo love, meaning brotherly, affectionate love. It’s agape love—an unconditional, faithful, altruistic kind of love. It is the love that characterizes God, for God is love (1 John 4:8), and He offers it to us freely.
The best definition of this type of love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. When you read those verses, insert your name each time you read the word “love.” Then do it again and again—as a doer of the Word, not only a hearer (James 1:22).
Jesus bore the marks of His love; so our lives, too, should be marked by love. Choose to use God’s gift of love. Give and forgive expecting nothing in return (Luke 6:35). Do good to those who hate you. It isn’t easy, and you might fail, but remember . . . loving through Jesus is the best gift you can give to others and to God.
DIG: What is the difference between agape and phileo love?
DISCOVER: Look through your Bible or use an Internet Bible to find examples of how God tells us to love. Write them down on an index card.
DO: When you are struggling to love, ask God to help you and use your index cards as a lamp to your feet and light to your path (Psalm 119:105).
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.