The Fruit and The Vine — AGAPE II
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV)
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Hmm…I guess this is a command NOT meant for those who tend to be somewhat narcissistic. When I looked at the word love as a fruit of the Spirit and not as an emotion to be felt the idea of self-love seemed to have no place, after all, “Love” as described in the Bible is quite different from love as supported by a secular worldview. To borrow this Biblical phrase, “You must love one another out of obedience to God, which cannot be done outside of experiencing God’s love yourself in the first place and accepting what that love reveals about yourself.”
It is natural and normal to love yourself. The fact that a vast majority of people in the world care for themselves first is testament to the fact that love for self is not lacking. The Garden is a good place to see this get its beginning. The adversary stirred up a strong realization of self-love in Eve because “surely” you wanna be like God, knowing good from evil, don’t you? Not being open to understanding what the will of God is in our lives ALWAYS leads us to applying our own will to it and therefore the love of self will “surely” manifest itself into a form of bondage to sin. In this case a simple act of disobedience leads to separation from God, for all of us.
We should love ourselves based on God’s abiding love for us and our response to this love is that we share it with all whom we come in contact with—our “neighbors.” In fact, it could be argued that were someone to NOT love himself it would be an act of sin, as it would, in essence, be rejecting God’s love. So what does the Word of God say about self-love or loving self? Well to get this right out there, the idea of loving yourself being a command from The Bible ain’t so…period. We already love ourselves too much and YHVH knows this but on the flip side it is equally unbiblical to practice self-hatred. So no self-mortification, got that?
I mention the word abiding again and to be honest fruit bearing cannot be possible without abiding in the True Vine. The first 10 verses of the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel has Jesus telling His disciples the importance of abiding in Him so they all can abide in The Father and by the 17th chapter Jesus is bringing this to vertical connection with His Father through His priestly prayer. But the most important of all these verse to understand, for me, was…“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Finding our identity in the AGAPE of Jesus Christ is a major key for the world to see so that they will know we are Christians…by our love.
Although it was being tried in The Garden isn’t it ironic to see how love is the first fruit of the Spirit? I can’t be sure if Adam and Eve understood YHVH’s perfect love even though they were receiving it but I walk away from the moment realizing that being obedient to God’s will in my life is my display of love for The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. My problem is with its application is my own free will. I have my moments where I have said to myself “surely” this will be okay even when it wasn’t and, yes, there were consequences. But I am not falling back on the excuse that God is still working on me to justify my lack of agape. Instead I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. How about you? Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger
Think About This: “We are all responsible to Jesus first, and then, under Him, to various other persons and offices. Discerning the path of love and obedience when two or more of these submissive relationships collide is a call to humble, Bible-saturated, spiritual wisdom.”—John Piper
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3