Biblical love is not an emotional, sensual response to another person, but an unselfish commitment to help, benefit, or build up another person without consideration of deriving potential personal benefits for your actions.
This is an unconditional action modeled by our Lord. As Luke wrote, we are to “love [our] enemies [helping, benefiting them, not necessarily liking them], and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and [our] reward will be great, and [we] will be sons of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35b). The concepts of this verse describe what it means to love others practically.
The present imperative verb in Ephesians 4:32 is to “be continually or habitually acting” in three descriptive manners: kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. To be kind means to act in a “gracious, mild, or pleasant [as opposed to harsh, hard, sharp or bitter]” manner. This is the physical response to the needs of others.
To be compassionate, means to “be tenderhearted,” which comes from a word for bowels, or “gut feeling”—a kind of gnawing of empathy that allows us to feel the pain of a person in need. Peter wrote that we should be “of one mind [the same priority] having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Pet 3:8). This is the emotional response to the needs of others.
Lastly, we are to be habitually and continually “forgiving one another just as [in the same manner as] God in Christ forgave you.” The word forgiving is from the root word for grace, thus meaning “to grant a favorable status or give acceptance without conditions, as a gift,” just because the other person needs to know he or she is forgiven by you. This is the relational response to the needs of others. We can harbor no resentment or bitterness against anyone. This is the new paradigm of the Christian life: we are to live as Jesus did and forgive as He continues to forgive us daily.
To be a part of a community like this would be like heaven on earth. Be a constructive part of building these bonds with your fellow believers today!
“Loving Father, as You have forgiven me, I ask that You give me the understanding and the will to forgive those who may hurt me. May I surrender my own feelings and needs to You, the true and just judge.”
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