James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
You may have wondered why the title of this article is "True Love", and the text has nothing to say about love. Our purpose is to examine our love to see if it is dead or alive. Love can be confusing. Some say love is one thing, and others say love is something else. Some are "falling in love" and some are falling "out of love". Even though most people at one time or another are "in love", nobody really seems to know what it is! This morning, let's study true love in the light of the Word of God.
The Definition of Love
The definition of love is where the biggest problem is. Most people just don't really understand what love is. The Greek language gives a more precise definition of love than English. For example, there are at least four Greek words that are translated into the English word love. Stergein describes a natural love, Eran a passionate love, Philein a pleasurable love, and Agapan a self sacrificing, giving love.
Love has been described by the world as like, or to have affection for (philein). Sometimes this is called "puppy love", or the "first love".
Love has also been described as lust. Movies and T.V. often show this kind of love. Many people consider themselves to be "in love" when they are around a member of the opposite sex and have butterflies in their stomach, hear music, bells, or some other such nonsense. The last two generations have grown into adolescence, fallen in love, gotten married, then fallen out of love. They immediately fall in love with somebody else, get married, or just live together, then fall out of love, then back into love, then out of love again. This kind of love is described by the Greek word Eran, from which we get the English word, erotic.
The reason there are so many divorces and broken homes today is because the element in love called commitment is forgotten, thus there is no real love. Real love does not come because of a "heart throbbing romance", but it comes as a person is committed to their spouse regardless of what happens. This is what the marriage vows are all about. We do not promise to stay together until something goes astray. We promise to stay together for better or worse. But just like you can't trust what many people say anymore, people have disregarded their marriage vows for the pleasure of a season, then spend the rest of their lives regretting that decision for pleasure.
May God help us to see that real love will never be separated from total commitment. This totally committed love is for God, from God and for the Work of God.
The Forgotten Element of Love - Commitment
By commitment, we mean that we freely give of ourselves. We do not give our time, talents, or money in order to receive anything. We give because God has given us the desire to give. This is the kind of love Jesus loved us with. John 13:1, "...(Jesus) having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." John 17:26, "...that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." Jesus wants us to have the same kind of love He has. This thought brings us back to our text, James 2:17. If we truly have the kind of love Jesus has, we will have a giving love, not a taking love.
There is a parallel between the people and organizations we love and the amount of ourselves we give to those people and organizations. Jesus said, "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." If we love the things of the world, we will give ourselves to those things. If we love the things of God, our church family, and our fleshly family, we will give ourselves to them.
Please, be honest before God. Forget what anybody else thinks. What are the fruits of our love? Do we say we love our spouse, yet never show it? Do we say we love our church family, yet criticize their every decision? Do we say we love church worship, yet fail to attend? Do we say we love the Bible, yet fail to read it? Do we say we love to pray, yet forget to pray? Do we say we long to see sinners saved, yet fail to see the necessity of taking the gospel to them? Do we say we love to spend time with God, yet are so busy we don't have time to spend with Him? When was the last time you told God you loved Him?
Are we fooling ourselves? Instead of being honest with God, and ourselves are we convincing ourselves that we have true love -- without any fruits?
Jesus told the Ephesian church in Rev. 2:4, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love".
The problem with our world is not that we don't have enough churches, or church services. The problem is not that Satan is too strong. The problem is that we, as individual Christians, fail to totally give ourselves to the cause of Christ. We seem to think that one person can't make all that much difference. But God said He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were ten righteous people living there, Gen. 18:32.
If God said He would spare the world for ten righteous people, would you be one of the ten?