Many years ago there was a popular song on the radio called "What the World Needs Now." Written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, it was sung by many. The main lyrics were:
What the world needs now is love,
It's the only thing
That there's just too little of …
Yes, the world certainly could use more love. But many people are confused about what love really is. Some think it is an emotion or a feeling. Some confuse the desire to possess another person's affections as love when in fact it is lust.
Love is an action word that God clearly defined in I Corinthians. 13: 4-8a and I John 4: 7-21. All the attributes of love require the lover to give up his or or herself for the person that is being loved (See article About the History of the Christian Fish Symbol, Nov-Dec. 06).
As explained by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians, Jesus provides the primary example of what it means to love. Paul encouraged the Philippians to live in unity by using what they received from God's love, to apply it in their relationships with each other, to have brotherly love and to be one in spirit and purpose (Philippians 2: 1-2). This letter is a great commentary for how Christian should live in the world today. The main scripture for this Bible Study Article is Philippians 2: 1-16 The New International Version of the Bible (NIV).
As Jesus taught, He also lived. He told us: Greater love hath no man than this, that man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 KJV).
This is also underrated in John 3:16 KJV where the Bible tells us that God so loved the world, that he had his only begotten Son. From this Biblical statement we see that God so loved the world that he did what? He GAVE … So love is clearly defined as GIVING.
To Love Is To Give
Love means giving of oneself or to give up one of self-centeredness or selfishness as explained in Philippians 2:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in dignity consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2: 3 NIV)
Two key concepts from this verse are (1) do not act out of selfish ambition, and (2) consider others before yourself. This is what Jesus did. He put the welfare of others first by dying on the cross to save us. This is the model for living in love as further explained in Philippians 2:
5. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grassed,
7. but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! (Philippians 2: 5-8 NIV)
Jesus put His love into action. It is seen in His teaching, His life and His attitude by:
O taking the very nature of a servant
O He humbled himself
O became obedient to death (v. 7-8)
Let us look at each of these three (servant, humbled, obedient) in more detail to see how to love like Jesus.
The Very Nature of a Servant
A true servant is concerned only about the people she serves. Webster's dictionary defines servant as a person working in the service of another (dictionary.com). The Strong's Concordance tells us that the original Greek word for servant used by the Apostle Paul in this letter to the Philippians is Doulos (# 1401) which means a slave … devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests (bible.crosswalk .com). Jesus told us who we should serve:
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10 KJV)
God has given each of us an assignment to serve Him as Ambassadors for Christ (II Corinthians 5: 11-21). That means walk like Jesus, love like Jesus and tell people about Jesus. Each of us should be a walking billboard for God's love.
He Humbled Himself
We should not confuse being humble with being humiliated. They are not the same. To be humble is a choice we make for ourselves. It means having a modest opinion of oneself. Certainly, whether we have great abilities or not, we should be humble in the sight of God, the creator of the world.
You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. (Psalm 18:27)
To be humilated is to be bought low by someone other than ourselves, generally against our will. It could involve being disgraced or losing one's dignity. The person who is likely to be humiliated is the one full of pride that refuses to humble him or herself. God loves the humble of heart.
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall rise the humble in spirit. (Proverbs 29:23 KJV)
The problem with not being humble is that a person full of pride can not hear what God is saying because his own noise is too loud.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. (Psalm 25: 9 NIV)
But a person who is quiet in the spirit is ready to hear what God says and ready to act on what God says. The humble person is ready to serve because he has given up of himself for the purposes of God.
Obedient to Death
If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) my commands. (John 14:15 AMP)
Continuing with the theme of To Love Is To Give, we can substitute in the Bible verse above and God is saying "If you give up yourself then you will obey me." Obedience is not far-fetched if one is first willing to be a servant and second is humble. Obedience should naturally follow. When we are obedient then we can accomplish much for the Kingdom of God because God can trust us, equip us and lead us.
God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5: 5 KJV)
Jesus' obedience caused Him to die on the cross. Because of His love for God the Father and for us, He was willing to give up His life as a sacrifice for us all so that we could live.
If you keep My commands [if you continue to obey my instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and live on in His love. (John 15:10 AMP)
Let's recap what has been said so far: first, a willingness to be a servant means putting one's own interest aside, a giving up of oneself; Second, to be humble is to put oneself below God, ready (and able) to hear from Him; And third, to be obedient is the result if we are truly humble and ready to serve – if we have really given up of ourselves.
Conclusion – How Do We Get There?
Continuing with our main scripture of Philippians 2 from the NIV we are told that it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (v. 13). God needs to work on us from the inside. Let's look at the same scripture from the Amplified Bible:
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. (Philippians 2:13 AMP)
The words "in you" are used twice in the above scripture to show that God wants to work on each of us from the inside. God can not work on us from the inside unless we accept Jesus as our Lord. Then, God in the person of the Holy Spirit can come and make his home inside of us (John 14:23) opening the door for Him to work in each of us to begin to give of ourselves.
Further, we are told, Do everything without complaining or arguing (v14). This is a practice that is foreign to the world as many people sit around complaining, gossiping and slandering others as a way of life. But as Christians we have to step away from this and other sinful practices.
If we complain a lot (or murmur), then we certainly are not serving servants, we are not being humble and we are not in true obedience. Murmuring and complaining is the fruit of an unhappy and disgruntled person – not a truly humble servant. It was also one of the sins that kept the Hebrews out of the Promised Land for 40 years (I Corinthians 1: 5-10).
Finally, we are to be blameless and pure … in a crooked and depraved generation … shin [ing] like stars (v15a). Jesus told us, … if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. (John 12:22 KJV)