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What it means to ‘love’ someone

11 January 2024 ‘As we live in God, our love grows more perfect.’ 1 John 4:17 NLT

In today’s culture, the word ‘love’ means different things to different people. You can love your family, your country, your dog, your new mobile phone, and your car. But you don’t love your family the same way you love your mobile phone or your car. The kind of love we see in films and books where you fall in and out of love at the drop of a hat isn’t real love, it’s selfishness and immaturity. The Bible word agape (God’s love) is an unconditional commitment to love that’s rooted in an unchanging decision. It always gives, and doesn’t change whether the love is returned or not. It’s a decision of your heart to seek the other person’s highest good, no matter how they may respond. When the King James Bible translators came to the Greek word agape, in addition to using the English word ‘love’ to transliterate it, they often chose the word ‘charity’. This was meant to reinforce the idea that love is a selfless, unconditional, giving love. And as such, it directs kindness, respect, and loyalty towards the loved one. ‘God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect’ (vv. 16-17 NLT). What causes us to stand out from the world isn’t our words but our love for one another. When we can overcome our differences, when we can cross lines of denomination, race, and culture, and truly love one another, the world is drawn to Christ and it pays attention to what we say (see John 13:35).

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