THEY WILL KNOW
By Jeannette Haley
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
If ye have love one to another.” – John 13:35
Some of you may be old enough to remember those early school days when things were simple, straightforward, and “normal.” I’m thinking back to when a picture of George Washington, the father of our country, hung in every classroom and where there stood an American flag which we pledged allegiance to with pride. We were taught to sing the Star-Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic, along with American ballads and folk songs.
We had blackboards, white chalk, a map of the world, real books, paper and pencils, and teachers who were dedicated to the task of educating us so we would hopefully grow up to be decent, law-abiding, productive and worthwhile citizens of America. There was no such thing as “political correctness,” ungodly, pornographic “sex-ed” or Nazi-style “Critical Race Theory.” Communism was something very bad, and God, prayer and the Bible were very good. Parents, teachers, the police and all adults in general were to be respected whether we “liked” them or not. Bad manners, rudeness, talking out of turn, and disrespect was met with consequences.
Educators back then were not expected to adapt to the business of making sure we ate breakfast or lunch because that responsibility was up to our parents. Treats, snacks, games, gifts and parties weren’t part of the regular classroom scene either, so on those very special and rare occasions, such as holidays or traditional days, like Valentine’s Day for instance, when we got to be creative and make things to give to our parents and friends, was memorable.
I still remember the excitement in early February when it came time to buy a Valentine’s Day card-making kit, and then cut, fold and paste them into cute and charming little cards with simple sentiments and invitations to “Be my Valentine.” Just thinking about it brings back the smell of Elmer’s paste. Then, it took a lot of decision-making as to who got what.
Back then it was innocent, fun and all about childish “love.” I’m so thankful to the LORD that I grew up in such a time, and even though it was far from perfect, the idea then seemed to be if a life begins with love, grows in love, and practices love that it will end with love. However, sooner or later a person learns that there are many different kinds of love, and not all of it is of God or pleasing to Him. For example, there is sentimental love based on emotions, self-love produced by selfishness and self-interests, fleshly love which is lust, and obsessive love which is demonic. Of course, at the root of these various “loves” is SELF. As a culture, we’re so used to throwing around the word “love” in common place ways, such as “I love my new couch, or house, or car, or hat” and so forth that the real depth and power of the word “love” is diminished.
While our English language, which has been referred to by some as a “garbage language” is extremely limited in its loose use of the word “love,” the ancient Greeks had nine different words and definitions which brought decisive clarification as to just what type of “love” was being addressed. Most of us know that the New Testament KJV is translated from the Greek language. Following is a brief description of four of these Greek words which I borrowed from blessingofheaven.org: Koine Greek is much more specific than English, which is something that was needed in writing the New Testament, because readers can know exactly what God is talking about in each verse. An example of this specificity is the Koine Greek words to describe the word “love.”
In English, the word “love” is used in many different ways. It can be applied to your feelings toward your spouse, your parents, siblings, strangers, or even a cup of coffee. Koine Greek, however, designates a specific word for each version of love that we feel in different situations. Here are the Greek words that were used during Christ’s time to convey the meaning of the word “Love.”
- Eros (ἔρως): Refers to romantic love felt towards one’s spouse. This Greek term is where the word “erotic” is derived from. The word “Eros” is not actually used in either the Old or New Testaments.
- Phillia (φιλία): Refers to feelings one has towards close friends “brotherly love” This word was used in the New Testament to describe Jesus’ love for his disciples (John 20:2) and for Lazarus (John 11:3).
- Agape (ἀγάπη): This is the kind of love that we should have for all men, and also for our enemies. It is a selfless kind of love that Christians must have in regard to acting in the best interest for all human beings.” But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44).
- Storge (στοργ): This Greek word refers to love we have for our parents, siblings, our children and other members of our family. Peter used this word in the negative in Romans 1:31 when he described the pagans that he was in contact with being without “natural affection.”
One of the signs of the end of the age is love for self, and the lack of “natural affection” for others. We are all witnesses on a daily basis of the fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” We see from these verses that the “lack of natural affection” is a serious problem that manifests itself in self-serving wickedness and abominations. We live in a world full of people who have sold their souls to Satan, and who have no conscience, no pity, no remorse, no goodness, no kindness, and no love whatsoever, except sick “love” for self. As pointed out in the powerful little Book of Jude, all such people are ungodly, sensual, and without the Spirit, “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” verse 13. The “Apostle of love” warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15).
Sadly, one of the greatest errors in the organized church today is the unbiblical, but popular platitude that we need to “love ourselves” so we can “love our neighbor.” Nowhere in the Bible does it teach any such thing. On the contrary Luke 9:23-25 tells us what Jesus said “to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” Loving our neighbor as we “love ourselves” means caring for their welfare in the practical, basic things of life such as food, water, clothing, shelter, etc. “Doing unto others as we would have them do unto us” is a basic principle for practical, daily life in this world. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” 1 John 4:7, 8. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:17-19).
There is no greater love than the love of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16, and the greatest commandment is this: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law the prophets. Matthew 22:37-40. Have you thought about that? The law is about love—God’s love for us in caring about our welfare for our lives, our duty to love Him above all else, and laws that are for the purpose of our doing right by others. Paul defined love (charity) in 1 Corinthians 13 which is a good “measuring stick” as to our “level of love” in different situations—a very humbling “measuring stick” indeed!
At a glance, these familiar words seem so simple and easy to understand, yet the question remains, why are “churched” people having so many struggles, failures, disappointments, emotional problems, and defeats in their daily lives? If you were to ask any one of them if they believe God loves them, they’d probably look at you as if you had two heads. Yet, the simplicity of Christ, and the love of God, is often lost in a sea of confusion because of the darkness of the hour, the harsh reality of the evil veil covering the earth, and the destruction, devastation, death and demonic delusions everywhere you look. Real, enduring, committed love between people seems to be going the way of the vanishing buffalo. Jesus told us, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” Matthew 24:12. (Remember, “iniquity” is moral deviation, and the whole world is drowning in a sea of unspeakable evil.)
How can floundering Christians get back to the solid ground of faith in God’s love and the first and great commandment in such a time as this? It begins with a “head and heart” decision and that is to decide to believe that God never lies, His Word is true, His love is real, and that we must decide to trust, love and obey Him. Involved in this decision is the surrender of the suffocating, obsession of our love for ourselves and the right to our self-life which is rooted in love for the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15. We cannot serve two masters. Hanging on to your right to yourself, and love for the world, while trying to “be a Christian, is like trying to swim while clinging to an anchor. If you want to experience the love of God, the life of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, you have to let go of “every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (see Hebrews 12:1-3). We must make the decision to allow godly character to be formed in our innermost being so that the life of Christ can be formed in us.
Much confusion and contradiction about what real love is, is the result of failure to receive “the love of the truth”. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:10.) Love without truth results in error. God’s love is manifested to us in Jesus Christ Who never disobeyed the will of the Father, never “softened” the Truth, never “broadened” the Way, and never “compromised” the Life (of holiness). To be “politically correct” and “soft on sin” is not love, but rather corruption that leads to death. The love of God is a commitment to always do what is right. That is the kind of response He requires of us towards Him, through worship, obedience, and doing right by others. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” Romans 5:5. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” John 14:21.
Here is the bottom line: Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). May God help us to receive, embrace and live that kind of love in our brief journey through this troubled world.