What is Love?

biblePerhaps there is no word in the English language that has been more tortured, twisted, misunderstood and even perverted than the word “love”. Love is more than just a feeling and not something you keep falling into or out of from time to time. Even Christians are not immune to this kind of confusion & distortion of the real meaning of Love. The true definition of Love is ‘God’ (1 John 4:8), and that’s why Christ tells us the greatest commandment of all is to Love, because to Love is to know God.

We don’t understand what it means for God to love us, we really don’t! In John 15:9, Jesus said “As the Father loves me, I love you. Abide in my love.” How am I suppose to comprehend what it really means for God the Father to love God the Son who both co-existed before eternity, before the foundation of the universe? I am convinced we are not skilled to comprehend the depth of the love of God for us, at least not on this side of heaven.

When Jesus said, “I love you,” He did not say, I love you only when you’re good or when you love me back or when you’re spiritual or when you’re strong or victorious in life. No, not at all. He said I love you, and I love you all the time and all the way to eternity.

God demonstrated His own love through Christ who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). For our sakes, He who knew no sin became sin so that through Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Such amazing love is beyond my comprehension. Unutterable Mercy and Grace.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

  • According to 1 Corinthians 14:1, we are to pursue love.
  • According to Colossians 3:14, we are to put on love.
  • According to 1 Thessalonians 3:12, we are to increase and abound daily more and more in love.
  • According to 2 Corinthians 8:8, we are to be sincere in love.
  • According to Philippians 2:2, we are to be unified in love.
  • According to 1 Peter 4:8: we are to be fervent in love.
  • According to Hebrews 10:24, we are to encourage one another to love.
  • According to Psalm 151 (a biblically inspired song by Wynonna Judd), we are to testify to love.

For these reasons is exactly why the apostle Paul went to the extreme to make clear his point about love in 1 Corinthians 13:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing”

He is basically saying the best of everything we can or would ever do, offer and all our efforts are nothing if they are not motivated by love. Going from love to hate, that’s easy. But going from hate to love, that’s hard. Often, the people that are hardest to love are the ones who needs it the most.

Love is part of the fruit of the Spirit and cannot be manufactured but only shared because Christ has poured it into our hearts already. We can only grow in love by putting it to use because it not just a word but an action word (verb). Hence, God Almighty proved His love in action through Christ not only dying but living for us.

We hear people say, I’d die for you, but there is something harder than dying for someone, and that is living, living for someone. In fact, it is much harder to live for Jesus than to die. Even Peter who God the Father Himself in Heaven revealed to the true identity of Christ found it easier to have denied Jesus 3 times than to embrace the truth of acknowledging to knowing Jesus. It’s easier for us to be ashamed of the gospel and of our identity in Christ than to be bold and courageous especially when we need to be.

Godly love is different from people pleasing. Godly love is the love that is willing to serve, but at the same time is willing to rebuke; godly love is the love that is willing to give of oneself, but at the same time is willing to exhort and warn; goldy love must be willing to sacrifice, but at the same time tell the truth all the time; godly love must live in obedience to God’s word, but fearless of people; godly love as one source, God alone. We can never be truly loving or exercise godly love without walking closely with the Lord.

At age 20, George Matheson (1842-1906) was engaged to be married but began going blind. When he broke the news to his fiancee, she decided she could not go through life with a blind man, so she left him. He went blind while studying for ministry, and his sister had been the one to care for him through the years.

Twenty years later, his sister was about to get married, and so he was facing the prospect of living the rest of his life without the one person who had come through for him. On top of this, his sister’s marriage brought a fresh reminder of his own heartbreak. It was in the midst of this circumstance and intense sadness that the Lord gave Matheson a song which He apparently wrote completely in just five minutes without any retouch or correction. It was a song that tells about the steadfast love of God:

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

James Baldwin, a man who fought valiantly against racism and witnessed all sort of division within the American church said he was not a member of any Christian congregation because, he knew they had not heard and did not live by the commandment, “Love one another as I love you.”  LOVE is not just the greatest but it is the very first commandment above all. Christ Jesus, while on earth said (in Matthew 22:37) the first and greatest commandment of all is to:

“Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your Soul, and with ALL your mind”.

Only when we do so can we truly give to the Lord who gave us everything that which cost us nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). “Loving Jesus begins with being dissatisfied with where you are at your current level of loving Jesus” – Dr. Michael Youssef.