Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Study Time: Love (Part 2)

"And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbour the same as you love yourself." (Matt 22:39, ERV)

Hi all.

The weekend was a largely family orientated one for me, which I loved! Saturday was spent with my sisters at Ghana Party in the Park, in North London. Lunches and blankets were packed and off we went! GPITP is what I can only describe as London’s biggest consumption of Ghanaian culture in one place, at the same time. It is held in a large green in Cockfosters, North London (forgotten the name of the park, lol!). It’s an outdoor event seasoned with musical performances on two main stages,  the sale of Ghanaian food and cultural artefacts, and entertainment for the children. Sunday morning was spent at church, and the afternoon was spent visiting Mr’s auntie, who is visiting London for a month.  

My sisters are all very camera shy!
(Actually, they just don't want to be featured on this blog!)

There is something about spending your weekends with family (especially if you do not see them regularly) which colours the two days with joy, relaxation and contentment. This was compounded by the lovely summer weather. This brings us to today’s blog post. We will continue our theme of love, focusing on love shared between family and friends. Please get your notebooks and bibles ready as we start Study Time: Love (part 2). Please check the last Study Time, for the meaning of love. 

First here comes the disclaimers:

Disclaimer 1:  Study Time will be purely devoted to Biblical teachings. My other blog posts will be general motivational material. 

Disclaimer 2: Please remember that the original intended audience of my lessons are young people, so please excuse me if Study Time appears to be too basic for you. (Remember, I teach young people!)

Key Bible Verses
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Genesis 4: 8-11
Matthew 22:39
Matthew 26:14-16
Mark 14:10-11
Luke 22:3-6

Storge Is described as an affectionate love shared between family members, or spouses. It is seen to be the most natural kind of love, the type of love us humans are most capable of.
Think about it, no matter how much your younger bro might annoy you, or your big sis may boss you about, in the long run you are unlikely to cut them off (fights aside). No matter how much you sass mum or roll your eyes at dad they will continue to provide a roof over your head and food in your stomach. As much you might feel ignored by your son or daughter,
one SOS call from them will most probably have you running to their aid.

En route to visit Auntie!
Examples of storge love in the Scriptures are of Abraham and Isaac; Mary, Martha and Lazarus; Mary and Elizabeth; and Jacob and Joseph.

I am by no means saying we always get it right, as we are not always patient or kind. We are also sometimes boastful, proud and easily angered, as we will see in the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16)

Cain and Abel
To sum up the story in a few lines, Cain And Abel were brothers, sons of Adam and Eve, the first ever humans. Cain was a farmer  and Abel was a shepherd. The Scriptures tells us that in the course of time, they both offered a share of their yield. Cain offered a portion of his produce, whilst Abel offered the very best lamb of his flock. God was happy with Abel’s sacrifice but not too fussed about Cain’s. Because of this Cain became angry. So one day, he attacked brother really hard and killed him. His punishment was banishment from the land they were in. He was cursed with being a homeless wanderer. But interestingly enough God did not kill him.

The story of Cain and Abel is an illustration of where love should have been practised but failed. Whilst teaching this to my youth group I decided to use this example, because I wanted to show them that the Bible is not full of perfect people doing as they told. I feel it is important to  stress this point if we are to have any hope of making the Bible relatable. It also serves as a warning to the dangerous consequences of some poor choices, and as encouragement to God’s kindness when we miss the mark.

Lessons Learnt
1.The Bible doesn't really spell out why God did not accept Cain's sacrifice. However, it does stress that when the brothers presented their wares before God, that Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. (v4, NIV)  So it could be because Cain's offering wasn't his best.Meaning it might not have been the freshest of his crops. Or his attitude wasn't right. This is highly likely because for his anger to have been roused that much probably meant his heart was not in the right place to begin with. This is a lesson that whatever we decide to offer to God, be it our time, energy or money, He should get the best, and you should give it with a cheerful heart. 

Always offer your best.
Packed lunch anyone?

2. This is loosely linked with my first point, but I'd like to stress on it again.  Practice love all the times, as your envy or hatred will be exposed eventually. How many times have you blurted something out that you shouldn't have, or done something impulsively. Chances are it didn't just happen. Luke 6: 45 tells us "of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". I believe it was stored up hatred, which had been brewing since the day of offering that led Cain to do what he did. All he needed was a trigger. So young ladies and gentlemen pay attention to the condition of your heart! 
"And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6b, NKJV)

3. You are your brother's keeper! It's our job to look out for each other. Cain responded "Am I my brother's keeper?" (v9, NKJV) when God asked him of Abel's whereabouts. That was a display arrogance, and nonchalance towards his duty of care towards his brother. Would God have cursed Cain, had he shown some remorse? I don't know, but what I do know is that Cain's curse came after that exchange.
"So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” (Genesis 4:11-12, NKJV)

A purchase from GPITP.
Sadly my sisters think it's a complete waste of money!
4.   God is watching the way you treat people. After Cain attacked his brother, God asked him "Where is your brother Abel?" (v9, NKJV). My guess is that God already knew what had happened. But he was doing that thing that parents do when they ask obvious questions, just before they go absolutely mental at you! What is most remarkable is this: The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground (v10, NKJV). The revelation here is that God's attention is called to the way we treat others, whether good or bad!

5.    As I said before, I find it remarkable that even in the Old Testament, God did not kill Cain. Although he was cursed, his life was spared! However, young men and women, I would like for you to make a note of this, Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land (v 16, MSG). Beware guys, the way we treat our loved ones can drive away God's presence, and also drive them away leaving us isolated!

Are you treating your relatives with love? 

Remember you can pick your friends, but not your family, and God has put you with your family members for a reason. I know some family members are painful to be around and it’s OK to love them from a distance. You may not feel the affectionate storge kind of love for them, but you must love them nonetheless (we will look at what kind of love we should have for these painful people next time). However the important thing is not to not flout the maxims of Love, like Cain did. 

Let’s move on…

Phileo is a Greek term, found in the original scriptures which describes brotherly, affectionate love exhibited between friends. Biblical examples are portrayed in the closeness between David and Jonathan (an excellent example found in 1 Samuel 18 - 20);
Jesus and his disciples; and the fellowship of believers in the early church (Acts 2:44) 

With my bestie!
Unfortunately, Mr is also camera shy!

Judas Iscariot and Jesus

Again, when teaching this to my class I decided to focus on a Biblical example of people failing in their demonstration  of love. I enjoyed doing this, because I felt it helped them in identifying unhealthy relationships in their lives!

Here is a story we mainly focus on at Easter time, but I think it teaches a good lesson on what phileo is (and most importantly is not!)

The story here is simple, Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' chosen disciples, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This led to Jesus's arrest and crucifixion. The act of betrayal was a kiss. The story of the betrayal is recounted in each of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and between them all you will get the full picture.

Lessons Learnt
1. Love is not self seeking (1 Cor 13: 5). Maybe Judas missed the memo. It is difficult to understand the reasons that underpinned Judas's actions. But what we are able to ascertain is that he was the treasurer to the group of disciples.  He was the one who kept the money bag for the group of followers. And he often stole money from the bag. (John 12:6, ERV). So we see he was a very greedy man, and this greed put him in the position where he would eventually compromise his integrity, his friendship and ultimately his life! Ladies and gents, be careful about greed because if not nipped in the bud, can put the love we should have for our friends at a compromising position.

2. Not everyone in your friendship circle phileos you. Note that Jesus picked Judas Iscariot to be one of his disciples (Matthew 10:4) In this case, Judas was in Jesus's closest circle of friends in order to fulfil God's plan. However the lesson we can draw from this is that not everybody that calls you friend necessarily loves or even likes you. 
“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me". (Luke 22:21) In my opinion it's safer to keep your circle very small, as it eliminates the likelihood of having false friends. This is something that will com with age. Asking God to  sift our friends is also a very useful thing to do (albeit painful!) 
On the flip side, please also ensure you are not that fake friend, showing fake phileo!

3. Sometimes when we say or do things to hurt our friends, our actions or words cannot be undone! 
When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders.  “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)
Please, please be determined to treat your friends with love ALL the time. A simple action or word can set a chain of events in motion that can lead to destruction!

Has anyone been to Cockfosters before?
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of Study Time, and have learnt something new today. Our friends and family members play a big part in shaping who we are. And learning to display love to them at all times will not only develop us as people, and pleases God, but also nurtures and edifies them.  

If you have any questions on the material I have shared please drop me an email at, or post your comment below!


  1. Well done Madeline. I have enjoyed the content of this soul journey. It's an important topic because not only are we commanded by God to love each other but most at times the very people we love are the ones who betray us. As in the case of Jesus and Judas. We need to pray and ask God to help us on this journey of love. Thanks for another wonderful instalment of your soul journey blog. I love what you are doing with the youth. I am blesses by your writing keep up the good work.

  2. The Ghanaian necklace is trendy. If you ever get fed up with it, think of me.

  3. Thank you so much for the encouragement Patience Prosper! Like you said, it's a very important topic, and I feel once we learn the importance of love, we are halfway there.
    I am happy this blog is blessing you. Please do continue to leave comments. I love the necklace - although my loved ones think it's not even worth the plastic it was wrapped in. Anyway you can borrow it any time you want!


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