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"That Love Which Is Of God"

Chapter VIII

LOVE'S RATIFICATION

The home is God's agape-love illustration. It is the perfect and first place that each person was originally to see agape love in action. WE know that many homes are not a picture of agape-love. In our study of the agape love, which is of God, we see probably the most valuable issue concerning practical agape-love, outside of our Lord Jesus Christ, is in the home.

In the home there is a working of agape-love which is so often overlooked or not understood and with which the Scriptures have somewhat to help us. It is greatly needed. If one were to look at the home life of the average Christian, including the Pastor's, this would readily be evident. Many pastors have lost their pulpits because of never understanding this principle. I have seen so many preachers whom I have wanted to help concerning their heart, in recent years, as I was helped and am still being helped by others. There are preachers' wives who are hurt and children who are hurt and, perhaps, this might be an eye opener.

Where does agape -love come from? "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,..." (1John 4:10). And verse 19: "We love him (now think here) BECAUSE He first loved us." Agape is from God. First, it had to come to man. First, man learned love. Love is learned, not fallen into; not now, not ever! Love is learned. Think about it again First, He loved. How did He love? For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,... (John 3:16). "Hereby perceive we the agape of God, Because ..." Love is learned from Jesus Christ, taught by His action toward us. Our part is to respond to that love, as Paul said in Acts 16:31: "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." He was actually saying, "Respond to His (agape) love toward you."

Now, let us bring this down into the marriage and family relationship.

The Word of God tells of the position between the husband and the wife. Let us begin our study with I Corinthians 11:3: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." The husband is physical and spiritual head of the wife, but that means much more than is seen on the surface. In Ephesians 5:23, we read, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body." How is the husband to effect (agape) love? "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" (Ephesians 5:25). Notice the "even as" again. The husband is to be, in the home, what Christ is to the Church. What was Christ? He was (agape) love visible. He was the teacher of (agape) love from God to man. Husbands agape, or teach that liberal self-giving of sacrificial affection to the wives.

WOW! What a duty! What a responsibility! Most husbands would rather the wife show her love by serving them, rather than teaching her love by serving her. Agape love will serve and give, even to the unlovely. Agape-love is proven in an anti-agape environment. Husbands, where are we? Do we have phileo love (you pleasure me when I pleasure you), affection or do we have agape-love toward our wives? The wife is NEVER told to agape her husband in all the Scriptures. The nearest to it is found in Titus 2:4: "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children," The only command in this area to the wife is found in Ephesians 5:22: "Wives, submit (respond) yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." The wife responds, as the believer responds; the husband teaches agape-love as Christ teaches agape.

Husband, your wife is just exactly what you have made her. Just what have you taught here in this matter? Does she agape-love you? You reap just what you sow. Is she spiteful, contentious? I wonder where she may have learned it?

Brethren, are you asking where do you get agape love? Both men and women are to "look unto Jesus," but in a very real sense, the wives and daughters are to look unto their husband and dad. Some men reading this now need to go back and re-read some preceding chapters and review what God is pointing out to you for your marriage relationship.

Many good preachers become so busy in the ministry that they pervert their affection. They agape-loved outside the home (or appeared to) and failed miserably at home. Beloved, now think about this: agape-love, if genuine, cannot be turned on and off. One cannot have agape-love in church offices or out soulwinning and not have it when they come home. It is not possible, rather what is possible is "to appear" to have agape-love when out, but actually have a vast amount of phileo-love instead. Pastors can have phileo-love to those they are wanting to pleasure into coming to church, but often do not phileo-love them if they do not come. Beloved, agape-love is proven and tested in the home or we have mistaken God's words.

If agape-love is deficient in the home, it is deficient everywhere else. Where did God send the church to look, when looking at a man of God for their church? He sent the church to his home life. Notice in I Timothy 3:4-5: "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" The key word in all this is "how." This "how" is made or lost in the fruit. This is not a "how" taught from an outline. It is not a "how" to a Sunday School class or College term paper. It is a "how" by studying his wife's actions and his children's actions. Would your wife and children exhibit this characteristic under a clost scrutiny for genuine (agape) love, pastor? The Word of God disqualifies the man from bishoping if his "how" is not passed in the home. No brother is qualified to pastor whose home has been broken by divorce or other marriage problems. This writer would have great difficulty in understanding a wife who hated or could not stand to re-main with a man full of agape-love. No one is actually ready for the pastorate until he is "not a novice." I am sure that this stage of being a novice is included in the "how to rule his own," which must be learned and final examination taken before being passed.

By the way, preacher, when was the last time examination of this area was minutely included the pre-ordination qualification?

Beloved, each husband is to learn agape-love, then teach it through "giving his only" to his wife and then on to his children. Each wife is to respond to agape-love as the sinner responds submissively to Christ as Lord. What a wonderful home that would be! Church men learn love from their Pastor, dear pastor. Notice in Hebrews 13:7: "Remember them which have the rule over you (the pastor), who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." What do our men see when they scrutinize our behavior of life? Will they learn agape-love? "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17).

Are the church men to submit to learning the agape-love of the pastor? It seems so. Perhaps the problem of many folks lies at their pastor's doorstep. Perhaps many men/husbands' problems in their homes lay at their pastor's pulpit and home life. And perhaps many good wives' problems lay at the door of their husband, hence thier pastor. Perhaps? Let the reader be the judge. What kind of results would the wife see in a husband filled with and exercising (agape) love toward her?

Look at Colossians 3:18-19: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." Is Christ bitter toward the sinner or saint? Each wife should then feel she could come to her husband for all her needs wihtout fear of any upbraiding if she has a husband like Christ. In I John 4:18, we read: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." Mature (perfect) agape-love casts out fear. Who has this mature, agape love? I John 2:5 tells us that it is "...whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the (agape) love of God perfected (matured): hereby know we that we are in him." WOW! What any wife would give to have a husband who casts out her fears with agape-love. God does not give the spirit of fear. ("For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.") (2Timothy 1:7). No husband, who is agape-loving his wife as Christ, will cause her to have fear.

There is also another ingredient that each wife, whose husband agape-loves her, will see and know, an ingredient which is missing from multitudes of homes today and many churches. It is agape-love healing. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:" (Ephesians 5:28-29). This means that no man ever left his own wounds untended and no husband will see wounds in his wife. (...and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matthew 19:5-6), which is his own flesh, and leave her untended when he agape-loves her as Christ.

Today we see family problems, but so little of the husband sitting down with his wife to tend to the wounds. Perhaps he tends to her according to his love? Watch this in Hebrews 12:6: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth..." and again in Proverbs 13:24: "But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (early)..." That husband who genuinely agape-loves his wife or children, will sit down and tend wounds immediately when discovered. Do you, dear husband-reader?

Beloved, agape-love is the core of all God purposed and He has availed knowledge to us about it in two definite ways. One, through studying Christ, and two, through the home life of each husband. These are God's divine illustrating sources. In closing this chapter, I Corinthians 13 is paraphrased by Rev. John L. Pettit which fits very well:

"If I tell my family how they should perform, but do not lovingly guide them by my words and my example, I have become only blaring brass or a nagging noise to their ears... If I could forsee what they can become and even know the very plan of God for them and have absolute faith that it could hap-pen, but fail to give them loving encouragement to meet each day's challenges and frustrations, then my knowledge is useless... If I sacrifice every earthly possession for my family; yes, even lay down my life for them in some dramaatic way, yet fail to show sacrificial love in ordinary circumstances, then love shall not be commun-icated. This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience, even in the most tryuing circumstances. It never grows tired of explaining, instructing and answering. It looks for opportunities to express praise and support. It does not make its children dependent in a possessive sort of way, but strives to help them achieve the right kind of independence and the freedom to think for themselves...This love does not brag over things ĆI can do,' making family feel inferior by comparison. It does not misuse its authority, but realizes that the privilege to rear children comes from the Lord. Love has good man-ners. It does not Ćuse' family mem-bers to live out its own dreams or to carry out its orders, but treats family members with respect, for they are people too...Love is not touchy; it is not easily provoked, and realizes that children are children. It does not keep a men-tal record of wrongs committed or say, ĆI told you so.' Rather, love encourages children by praising their efforts... Love doesn't blow up and say, ĆI've had enough.' It believes the best, saying, ĆTry, I think you can.' It loves no matter what happens - low grades, strike-outs, or forgotten lines in the school play. Love is sufficient for every situation. And be sure of this: Love always brings posi-tive results. Everyone responds to love."