When Jesus Christ told his followers, in John 13, to love one another as he had loved them, he was introducing them to a new kind of love. Soon they were going to be able to love one another in a way never before possible. This love was not natural love, or brotherly love. It was divine love—God’s love.
John 13:34 and 35:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love [agapaō] one another; as I have loved [agapaō] you, that ye also love [agapaō] one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love [agapē] one to another.
On the day of Pentecost, it became possible for followers of Jesus Christ to love with this new kind of love, for they were born again and received God’s spirit. The love of God was shed abroad in their hearts by the holy spirit God gave them (Romans 5:5), and they gained the ability to manifest God’s love. Since that time, this has been available for every person who confesses Jesus as lord in their life and believes that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Nearly two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ introduced this new way to love, and it continues to be available to every born-again believer. In fact, it is guaranteed by God to never become obsolete.
Today, we who are born again of God’s spirit have His love nature dwelling within us. God gave it to us as part of the inner man. It is ours to manifest in the world—toward God and toward others. It’s this love of God that identifies us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We manifest this love by renewing our minds. We put on in our minds the “new man,” which by God was created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:23 and 24). When our minds are coordinated with our spirit, we can walk in the greatness of God’s love and His power.
In this series on the love of God, beginning with the January/February 2016 issue of The Way Magazine, we have looked in detail at each of the characteristics of agapē love listed in I Corinthians 13:4-8. We have observed how Jesus Christ manifested God’s love and how God’s love changes people’s lives. Let’s conclude our series by reviewing what God’s love looks like when we are manifesting it—what it does and what it does not do—and by considering some ways we can manifest His love in the world and powerfully influence the lives of others.
God’s love is a powerful force. When we put on the mind of Christ, we manifest love toward God and toward others, profiting their lives as well as our own. This “active” love of God strengthens the bonds between brothers and sisters in Christ, and it always brings glory to God, our heavenly Father. Let’s go over the characteristics of God’s love as listed in I Corinthians 13.
I Corinthians 13:4-8:
Charity [agapē—the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth….
The love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation is long-suffering, or long-tempered. We imitate our heavenly Father by being long-suffering with people. God’s long-suffering gives people the opportunity to repent, that is, to make a genuine change in life. Sometimes this change takes place slowly. However, for God the focus is not on how long it takes, but on the desired result—repentance and the corresponding wholeness.
II Peter 3:8 and 9:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation is also kind. The kindness of God is “actively beneficent in spite of ingratitude,” and when we choose to extend it to others, it can powerfully affect their lives. Our heavenly Father showed kindness to us when we didn’t deserve it.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with [made us alive together with] Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
We saw a number of things that the love of God does not do—it does not envy, vaunt itself, or get puffed up—it absolutely does not behave in these ways. These are all self-focused behaviors; whereas God’s divine love in manifestation cares for the things of others and rejoices with those who rejoice. Agapē love is giving. It seeks to edify others. And it glorifies God and makes known His ways….
This is an excerpt from the September/October 2017 issue of The Way Magazine.
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