Let's start with the following working definitions:
Love-Putting the needs of another ahead of our own, or to prefer, motivated by desire, not duty nor obligation.
Hate- Putting our own needs ahead of another, or to prefer not. (In the context of love of God or love of the world, it merely means the loved one is the one which is the preferred object of your desire)
There are only two possibilities; everything else is merely a matter of degrees. IE A newborn Christian may only put the things of the Lord slightly ahead of other things, and sometimes even mistakenly choose wrong (love in the bud), whereas a mature Christian has learned to give Christ pre-eminence in all things (love in the bloom). On the other hand, mere professors can put Christ first in some things, but their general demeanor is to put themselves and the things of the world at the top of their priorities. By this can you know who the regenerate and who the unregenerate are as recorded by the apostle John.
1 John 2:9-11 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
1 John 3:14-15 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
These seemingly contradictory verses merely refer to the fact that God must have the pre-eminence over all other relations, not that we are actually to hate our families as the world defines it.
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
Rachel was loved more than Leah, and yet the LORD saw that Leah was hated. As you should see from the general tenor scripture, there is only one choice between love and hatred, no middle ground has been provided.
Gen 29:30-31 And he went in also unto Rachel , and he loved also Rachel more than Leah , and served with him yet seven other years. And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
There is also the fact that love is part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Gal 5:19-25 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
From the above we know that the Spirit does not lead us into hatred. And from these below, we know that if the Spirit of God does not dwell in us nor lead us, we are not saved.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
And finally, the command below to deny ourselves is merely an inferential command to love; which is to prefer others above ourselves, and to prefer Christ above all.
Matt 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Biblical love is not the gushy indescribable feeling made popular by the hippy generation, but is a firm unwavering decision to put self last. This is what Christ did when He left His throne in Glory to atone for the sins of those who would receive Him as Saviour. He put our need for a Saviour above Himself, how can it be that we will not return this love to Him? The only reason possible is our very depravity!
Love as defined will be resident in the believer, but more importantly love for Christ will be the believer?s main interest, if it be not so in your case, go to Christ and ask Him to make it so.
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