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A Better Way to Love - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” (NLT)

Love Is An Ability

Of all the languages in the world, English is by far the most generic in its use of the word “love.” Not that we have much of a choice in the matter, but English speakers use the same word to describe every kind of love there is. Whether it’s declaring undying love for a person or a superficial appreciation for a favorite kind of food, the English language woefully misses the mark when it comes to differentiating the meanings and contexts of this incredibly important emotion. By stark contrast, most other languages and cultures have multiple options for describing it and indicating the levels of intensity and longevity of the love we express. Take for example Brazilian Portuguese, which includes more than a dozen ways to describe the types and stages of romantic love. Here in America, we move easily and non-distinctly between saying “I love bacon cheeseburgers,” to “I love my spouse.” A Brazilian would shake her head at us and try to coax us into being more selective and tender with our use of that phrase to avoid minimizing its power and importance.

The ancient Greeks also had multiple word variations for love, all of which would come in handy to have in the English language today. Some languages have up to 96 words to describe different facets of love. Like the Brazilians, the ancient Greeks believed that it was important to uniquely recognize the other kinds of love, each of which is distinctly valuable for everyday life. In fact, in Greek myth, the concept of romantic love – eros – comes from a form of “madness” brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. This is particularly insightful since eros is something that can drive us mad at different points in life. When we have it, we feel exhilarated and driven, sometimes at the expense of logic. When we don’t have it, we seem to be willing to sacrifice or even destroy other kinds of love to get it. It can drive us mad to obtain it, stir crazy if we lose it, and unrealistic about keeping it alive. Other Greek words for love include philia (friendship love), storge (familial love), ludus (flirtatious love), pragma (practical love), and philautia (self-love). Of course, each of these have both pure and sinful versions, but almost all of them have a role in every life at some point in time.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter” of the Bible, the apostle Paul gives a list of amazing acts of faith, and he concludes with, “but the greatest of these is love.” In this passage, he uses the Greek word for love called agape, which is the highest, purest, strongest, and longest-lasting form of love. Agape love is 100% unconditional, limitless, and guaranteed to never fade. Paul uses the word agape because he wants to indicate that God loves us far more than we can imagine and that we should show that kind of selfless, unconditional love to others. But there’s even more to his meaning, and it will revolutionize your perspective on all the other types of love. What Paul desperately wants us to understand is that despite anything we face in life… the trials, the joys, seemingly insurmountable odds, stubborn obstacles, the highs of great success … an agape kind of love is not a feeling, but rather is the ability to love God and love others in any circumstance and through any storm. 

Paul also wants us to realize that without God’s love flowing in and through us, everything we try to do for Him will be meaningless. All the other types of love can easily become fragile, tainted, or misguided when not grounded in the truth and framed by the boundaries of God’s agape love. When we seek to love God completely without ambition or agenda, He will, in turn, pour His unconditional, empowering agape into us so that we can then extend that love to others as He’s called us to do. Without the infilling of His agape love into our hearts, renewing our minds, and transforming our motivations, our acts of love may have a temporary impact, but they will always fall short in one way or another. God’s love, on the other hand, never falls short and never leaves us empty. When His love is let loose in our lives, it multiplies… becomes contagious even. As the author and theologian CS Lewis said, “In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give." 

Daily Bible Readings

This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask God how He wants you to receive HIs agape love in your own heart and then allow it to flow into the lives of those around you. As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically to you and then write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your heart. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind.

Monday - Read Psalm 9:1Romans 5:5, and Galatians 5:22-23. Like a wellspring pouring forth, God’s love is the source of all other good things in our lives. If we want more peace, we must trust in God’s agape love. If we want to experience true joy and a hope that doesn’t fail, we must have God’s love filling our hearts. All of this is made possible by the Holy Spirit living inside of us and transforming us day by day to become more like Jesus. As you meditate on these passages, think about what it means to surrender your whole heart ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any areas that you are trying to hold back or hide. If you are lacking in any of the fruits of the Spirit, ask Jesus to teach you how to receive more of God’s love. 

Tuesday -  Read Matthew 22:34-40John 17:26, and 1 Corinthians 15:10. Jesus tells us that we are to love God and others, yet our ability to do that doesn’t come from within ourselves or of our own resources. As imperfect and sinful human beings it would be impossible for us to give God the kind of perfect love He deserves. However, with each step we take to respond to God’s offer of this perfect love, He transforms our hearts, minds, desires, and motives to love Him in return and share His love with others. Spend time in prayer asking God to search your heart for any motives that aren’t from Him or any areas of pride that may be preventing you from loving unconditionally or causing you to take credit for the blessings in your life. 

Wednesday - Read 1 Corinthians 13 slowly and prayerfully, writing down any words that jump off the page at you. Afterward, go back through each word that you wrote down and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you why they are on your list. Spend time praying over your schedule for the week and your usual routines. Are there any activities, tasks, or meetings that are either lacking in God’s love or working against it? Ask Him to show you how to operate more fully out of His love, even in the most mundane tasks or seemingly non-spiritual work meetings. 

Thursday - Read 1 John 4:7-12. Based on this Scripture passage, think about how your close relationships reflect God’s unconditional love or not. As you pray over the ones who are closest to you, ask Him to reveal to you any ways in which your relationships need to be filled with more unconditional love. How can you help those that you care about on their journey to/with Jesus and to be more like Him? 

Friday - Read Matthew 5:43-48 and Hebrews 13:2. Loving others as God loves us is the hardest when it applies to people we don’t know, or even worse — people we don’t like. However, Jesus says it's possible to extend agape love to everyone we encounter, even our enemies. Spend time praying today for two groups of people — the strangers who will come across your path in the week ahead and the people in your life with whom you struggle with or dislike the most. Ask the Holy Spirit to flood your heart with His love and ask Him to give you the direction and courage needed to impact their lives for the better, no matter whether they deserve it or not.

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to live life a better way... Jesus' way.

Want to Go Even Further? 
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study. 

STUDY GUIDE - A BETTER WAY TO LOVE

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