Session 25: The Spirit of Love

Father God, open our hearts to the spirit of Your love.

We’ve been going deeper into The Spirit of Love.

spirit – the feeling, quality, or disposition characterizing something

—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed.

God’s love has a specific feeling, a unique quality which characterizes it from other loves.

Describe God’s love in a few words or a short sentence. How would you describe the spirit of God’s love?

Other-centered.

In our study this week we saw a father divide and pour out his estate for a demanding self-centered son, and a man called by God to pour his life and love into a woman who only wanted to satisfy her flesh. Both these stories, one a parable, one the life of a prophet, reveal something about God’s love for us.

Read Luke 15:11-24

What kind of love do we see Father God pouring out on younger son?

Read Hosea 3:1-3

How do these verses describe God’s love for His people?

From a secular worldview neither of these pictures of love make sense. The father and the prophet both put themselves at great risk for personal loss. Both loved people who did not love them in return, pouring their lives into them. One by giving his inheritance early, the other by joining his life to hers.

What is your emotional reaction to these loves?

What is your response to seeing yourself in these stories as the self-centered rebel? an adulteress?

The heart of the world’s love is based on what one receives from the love relationship. If a relationship stops bringing pleasure or benefits, if it’s just not fun anymore, then the love is gone.

This is far from the spirit of God’s love described in the Bible. The love God calls us to live out as followers of His Son, as children of His inheritance.

Our spiritual discipline this week led us through Scripture’s definition of love, with the challenge of putting flesh on it in our lives. Making a personal application. Today we are going to dig deeper into what each aspect of the spirit of God’s love is calling us to do.

Read 1Corinthians 13:4-7

Today we’re taking these verses piece by piece and turning them into a time of silent prayer and response to God.

If you’re studying by yourself today read through the teaching. Consider the questions prayerfully before God. Then respond with the prayer provided. If your setting permits, pray the written prayer out loud.

If you have sisters studying with you today. Choose someone to lead the time of prayer or take turns reading the teaching out loud. Allow periods of silence for each of you to take the questions to God in prayer. Respond in one accord by praying the written prayer out loud.

Let’s begin…

Love is patient. Some translations say: long-suffering or suffers long. The Greek translated here means: to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).

How have we seen God suffering long for us?

He has suffered long since the Fall of man in the garden of Eden. Jesus suffered long for us on the cross. The long-suffering patience of God’s love brings about salvation.

Consider who God’s asking you to be patient with, suffer long with or for, to bring about salvation.

Lord, bless us with the patience to love those in our lives who need to be set free.

Love is kind. To be kind is to show mercy, be gentle, have a sympathetic or helpful nature (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed.).

Consider what causes you to be unkind. Consider God’s kindness to you.

Lord, help us to remember Your gracious kindness to us. Let Your grace work on our hearts so we might be kind to others.

Love does not envy. Some translations read: is not jealous. The original language paints a picture of being heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). All steamed up because someone has what you want.

Envy and jealousy steal our joy for others’ opportunities, blessings, accomplishments. It’s a very self-centered emotion.

Consider who you need to rejoice with in their journey. Ask God what causes you to envy. Why aren’t you content with what He’s given you?

Lord, fill me with joy for Your work in my life and the lives of those around me.

Love does not boast. Some versions read: does not brag or does not parade itself. The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon for the original Greek defines it as a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively.

Do we really have anything worth boasting about?

Who we are and all we have is a gift from God. We have much to be thankful for, but very little room for boasting except in God.

Consider what stirs up your need to display yourself to others. Ask God to bring healing to those places in your heart.

Lord, bless me with a humble attitude of thanks. May my own insecurities not keep me from loving others. 

Love is not arrogant, conceited, proud, puffed up. The original language literally means to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). All pictures of a prideful attitude.

Just as we have no reason to boast, we have no reason to see ourselves as better than anyone else. All have sinned and fall short. Any of us, given the right set of circumstances, are capable of anything.

Consider those who you see as less than yourself. Ask God to reveal your areas of sin, which are just as dark. Humble yourself before Him, allow Him to lift you up (James 4:10).

Lord, help me to identify with the sins of others. Fill me with sorrow for their sins and for mine.

Love does not behave rudely, does not act improperly or unbecomingly, does not dishonor others. The Greek aschemoneo breaks down to two root parts: a, negative; schema, “a form” (ESL). To be rude is bad form. Merriam-Webster’s defines rude as being in a rough or unfinished state: crude.

Consider who you are most often rude to. What motive lies behind your desire to dishonor someone?

Lord, reveal the root of rudeness in my heart. Heal me so I may honor and love others the same way You do.

Love does not insist on its own way, does not seek its own, it is not self-seeking, does not demand its own way, is not selfish. These translations clearly express the original language.

God’s love is not about self. It’s all about others. Thus, the God who is Love must be three persons. He must have someone to love other than self.

We too must look to the needs of others before self. This is the way of love and life.

“…For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life form my sake will find it. …” — Jesus

Matthew 16:25 ESV

The Dead Sea is a picture of what happens when we only receive. There is no life. What God gives us needs to flow out freely in love for us to have life.

Consider what drives you to be self-seeking.

Lord, help me to trust Your love and provision in my life, so I can freely love others.

Love is not provoked or irritable, is not easily angered. The first definition of the Greek word translated as provoked in the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon is to make sharp, sharpen. Love is not sharp with its words or attitude.

Consider what causes sharp words to erupt from your mouth. What makes you irritable?

Lord, whether people or circumstances are irritating me, bless me with the peace to know You are faithful. Open my heart to love others even when I’m stirred up.

Love keeps no record of wrongs, does not take into account a wrong suffered, thinks no evil, is not resentful. These are several translations of the Greek which gives the sense of not keeping account of evil (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).

God has forgiven us through Jesus. And Jesus taught, God will forgive us as we forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). To keep an account of wrongs, to hold a grudge, is to live with unforgiveness. According to God, this is evil.

Those who do evil to you, harm themselves in the process. They do not go unmarred.

Consider who you have a list of grievances against. What keeps you from releasing them? Consider the harm they’ve done to themselves.

Lord, because of Your sacrifice and grace, You keep no record of wrongs against me. Those who have hurt me, have wounded their own souls through sin. Open my eyes to see. Open my heart to pray: Forgive them for they know not what they do.

Love does not rejoice at wrong doing, finds no joy in unrighteousness, does not delight in evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, does not rejoice about injustice. The Greek can mean injustice or unjust judging (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).

Any time we judge others it is sure to be unjust. God alone is the Judge. He alone sees the heart and judges correctly.

Consider when you delight in evil happening to someone. Are you OK with Jesus paying the price for their sin against you or your loved one?

Lord, create in me a clean heart. A heart free of vengeance and judgment. A heart willing to be satisfied with Your judgment.

Love rejoices in the truth, whenever truth wins out. Love rejoices in the truth even when it’s about us or our loved ones.

God is truth and His Word is always true. His way always right. Are there places in His Word which offend you and cause you to get angry with God? Peter experienced this when Jesus revealed the truth of His upcoming persecution, crucifixion, and resurrection (Matthew 16:21-23).

Consider the truths which offend you. Ask God to prepare your heart to receive truth even when it is ugly or uncomfortable.

Lord, prepare my heart to receive truth as love.

Love bears all things, always protects, never gives up. The Greek, stegō, means to cover, to protect or keep by covering, to preserve; to cover over with silence, to keep secret; by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).

This love that bears, protects. Never gives up a confidence. Keeps silent, rather than complaining about someone. This is the love of a friend who refuses to gossip. The love of a spouse who refuses to dishonor with constant complaining.

Consider who you complain about most. Why? Whose reputation do you need to protect? Ask God the root of your willingness to leave someone exposed.

Lord, teach me to cover others with silence. Enable me to endure without complaining.

Love believes all things, always trusts, never loses faith. The word translated as believes, trusts, faith is pisteuō, meaning to place confidence in (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). It is a word which portrays trusting belief. Belief we act on. It is the heart of faith.

This is a hard Word… love always trusts. We get hurt when we trust. We are disappointed. People let us down when we believe in them, put faith in them. Always.

We all have people who we love who have hurt us. People we know better than to trust again. But here we have it. Love always trusts. Always believes. Never loses faith.

Ultimately, we must remember we are putting trust in God, who is sovereign. He is always trustworthy with what comes, even when others are not. The more amazing thing is, when God loves us, He places His trust in us. He trusts us to love others.

Consider those you have trouble putting faith in. What causes you to be cautious in trusting others? Ask God to help you trust Him first and foremost when it comes to loving others.

Lord, grow me to love with trusting belief. Bless me with the faith to trust You when I place confidence in others. Grow me to be trustworthy with Your trust.

Love always hopes, hopes all thing, is always hopeful. At the heart of hope is waiting. Waiting in a doctor’s office, waiting on the phone call of a friend, waiting for your husband to come home is all done with hope. Expectation of it happening. If you don’t believe it will happen, you won’t wait.

The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon defines the Greek in a religious sense as to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence. We cannot bring anyone to salvation. So, like trust, we place our hope in God to work in the lives of those for whom we are waiting for something better.

Consider who you are waiting on. Who are you hoping will come to salvation or deliverance? What makes it hard to hope?

Lord, You are the only hope for salvation and deliverance. You alone make the way for something better. Grow me to hope in You and the work You’re doing in the lives of those around me. Fill me with hopeful love.

Love endures all things, always perseveres. The Greek means to remain, abide, not recede or flee; to bear ill treatments bravely and calmly (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). This is a love that doesn’t run away or avoid. It stays even when it’s difficult.

Consider who you run away from or avoid. Why? Ask God to prepare your heart to bear those who are difficult.

Lord, I’m grateful Your love for me endures. You do not avoid me, even at my worst. Transform my heart to love others the same way You love me.

Fill us with the Spirit of Your Love.

Amen.

The spirit of God’s love is not a love we can manufacture, it is a love which grows by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus.

Jesus ended His prayer to the Father for His disciples by saying:

“…O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

John 17:25-26 ESV (emphasis added)

Increased knowledge of God’s character leads us into a life of love. Love drives us to know someone better. And the greatest commandment is a call for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. When we love God this way, growing in our knowledge of Him and being filled with His love for others, it is a fulfilling of the law: love your neighbor as yourself (Romans 13:10).

God’s law is all about love.

Read 1Corinthians 13:1-3

What value do these verses put on spiritual gifts apart from love?

They are all worthless apart from love. Acts of sacrifice, knowledge, understanding, prophetic powers, and faith that moves mountains add up to nothing if they are not done in love.

Love is the fulfillment of the law. Anything which falls short of the law is sin. Therefore, if it is not love, it is sin.

Do you agree or disagree?

To follow God’s law is to love. To love is to follow His law.

There is one more aspect of the spirit of God’s love to take note of.

Read 1Corinthians 13:8

Love never ends. The Greek translated as ends is pipto. The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon defines pipto as falls, decays, comes under judgment, collapses, gives in under attack, loses authority or power.

Love NEVER does any of those things. Love never comes under judgment, it is never condemned. Therefore, when we love we are righteous. Love does not collapse under attack and never loses its power.

God is Love.

Agape is the Greek word for love we have been studying today. Worldly loves, such as eros and phileo have their limits. Eros ends when its perceived needs are not being met. Phileo, the love of a friend or brother, collapses under strain or attack. But not agape.

Agape is the love which the Spirit grows in our lives as we follow Him. It’s God’s love. The love He grows and matures in us which enables us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And the love we need to love others as ourselves.

We pray you will grow in the knowledge of God and His love for you, so His love may grow in you.

Next week is our last week on love and our last week in this current journey. We are going deeper into what it looks like to: Love God, Love Others.

The spiritual discipline for Love God, Love Others is: Morning and Evening Prayers.

We are asking you to write a personalized prayer to pray each morning when you wake and each evening when you go to bed based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In the Jewish tradition these verses are recited morning and evening in prayer. A reminder that God is One and we are to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength.

We’ve come to learn the spirit of His love grows in us as we come to know Him. This prayer practice is a call for God to increase our love for Him.

Father God, grow us to love You with all our heart, soul, and strength so we can love others as You do.

Click link for the PDF of next week’s study guide: Going Deeper – Week 25 – Love God Love Others – Homework

One thought on “Session 25: The Spirit of Love

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