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Bible study: Love one another

For many, Valentine’s Day has become a Hallmark holiday filled with sappy sentiment and red hearts . . . everywhere!

The exact details of the original St. Valentine are a little unclear. One ancient story says that St. Valentine ignored the emperor’s edict to discourage young people from marrying. You see, the emperor believed that single soldiers fought better. His edict prohibited soldiers to marry. That resulted in rampant promiscuity. St. Valentine performed marriages in violation of the edict and apparently lost his life for it. It’s no wonder that St. Valentine’s Day is about love.

Read John 13:1-17.

This account says that Jesus showed his disciples the full extent of his love. Analyze the characteristics of Jesus’ love. Identify in a specific way how you can emulate that agape love in two of your relationships (i.e., friend, spouse, coworker, etc.).

Jesus was Lord and Master, but he humbly did the menial work of a slave in washing the feet of the disciples. In a much larger way Jesus humbled himself to be born here, suffer here and die here even though he was God—all for us unworthy creatures.

How to show that kind of love to others will vary with each individual and their circumstances.

Understanding God’s agape love

Another love story trumps even that of St. Valentine. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). What love! This love story involves a bride who was unfaithful, constantly losing in her fight against temptation. God calls us the bride of Christ. This love story involves a Bridegroom who credited his perfect record to her and then gave his life for her in a most horrific way. He died for love. Real love.

God’s love for us not only teaches us about true love but also moves us to show love to each other. Therefore, understanding God’s love is vital to how we love others.

Read John 3:16; John 15:13; and Romans 5:8.

Pick out at least two truths from each passage about God’s love and what agape love “does.”

John 3:16—Agape love gives. It gives its most prized possession (God’s Son!). It seeks the good of others.

John 15:13—Agape love has no boundaries. It’s willing to endure pain. It moves someone to give himself or herself for another as Christ gave himself for us.

Romans 5:8—Agape love is undeserved. It is unconditional. It is determined solely by the heart of the lover, not the actions of the loved one. (Jesus doesn’t say that he did this “while we were really trying hard.”)

Reflecting God’s agape love

1 Corinthians 13 is called the “great love chapter.” In it, the apostle Paul describes what love does. He lists eight things that love is and eight things that love is not. You could call his list of what love is “deposits” you put into a relationship. As you do those things, you are making a deposit into your relationship, making it stronger. What love is not could be called “withdrawals,” taking something away from a relationship.

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Identify the eight “deposits” and eight “withdrawals” listed in these verses. Pick out one of each that you know you will struggle with in your life. Then imagine what kind of relationship you could have if both people love each other with Christian agape love!

Deposits:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Rejoices with the truth
  • Keeps no record of wrongs
  • Always protects
  • Always trusts
  • Always hopes
  • Always perseveres

Withdrawals:

  • Envy
  • Boasting
  • Pride
  • Dishonoring others
  • Self-seeking
  • Easily angered
  • Delights in evil
  • Fails

As you seek to thank God for the loved ones in your life this month, also remember to thank God for the true love of your life, Jesus. His love will never fail you!

Author: David Scharf
Volume 109, Number 02
Issue: February 2022

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David Scharf

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