Maintaining the Unity of the Spirit part 6

Sustaining the Peace with Love

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,… in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

The fifth and final component to the bond of peace is love. Without love, the bond of peace will be broken and unity cannot be maintained. If we are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, we must live in love.

What is love? One of DC Talk’s songs expressed it this way:

Hey, tell me haven't ya heard?
Luv, is a serious word
Hey, I think it's time ya learned
I don't care what they say
I don't care care what ya heard
The word luv, luv is a verb

Love is a verb. It is a doing word; an action. This is reflected in the close connection Scripture makes between ‘love’ and ‘give’.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Ephesians 5:25)

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17)

From these verses, we might define love as a giving of oneself for the good of another. That definition sounds pretty good. At least it does until we consider 1 Corinthians 13:3,

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Here we have a situation of extreme giving. This hypothetical person gives away all their possessions, and even their very life. Yet, Paul says, ‘they don’t have love.’ This causes a problem for our definition of love. While love and giving are related in Scripture, they are not equivalent. There must be something else about love that turns giving into an act of love. We get a clue in Paul’s account of the remarkable love displayed by the Macedonian churches.

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints- and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)

The active part of love is clearly evident. There was a wealth of generosity on their part. They gave (there's our word again) according to (and even beyond!) their means. What made their giving an act of love?

Consider their attitude. What was their attitude in giving? Paul says they were joyful in giving. Not only that, but they greatly desired to give. They begged earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. These people really wanted to help out. Their giving did not stem from an outward compulsion, but an inward one. It made them happy to give.

With that in mind, here is my definition of love:

Love is delighting in the good of another.

The loving person is the one who finds their joy in someone else’s good. When this is truly a heartfelt reality for us, we will naturally and spontaneously act in love. We won’t be able to help ourselves.

How are you doing in the love department? Where do you currently find your joy? Is the thought of giving a threat to joy?

God calls us to be a loving people. Here are a couple of suggestions for how you can develop a heart of love.


And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, (Philippians 1:9)

Get to know God more

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Let us grow in love. In so doing, we will maintain the unity of the Spirit that binds us together as Christians.

For more help in developing love, make sure you read the ‘Love one another’ six part series.

Maintaining the Unity of the Spirit
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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