Love Defined

What is your definition of love? It’s hard to put it into words isn’t it. When you say you love someone, what does that mean? It goes above and beyond the words. Valentine’s Day has no biblical endorsement as a holy day, but it causes us to remember the great emotion God feels toward us. It reminds us of our duty to love God, others, and the lost.  The primary commandment of God is to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength…and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. We know when we have love for each other and we know when we don’t. Love is the center of everything about God. It’s what makes salvation work. It’s how we are a church.

We’re here because of our parents’ love for each other. Love is a powerful gift from God. You can go to the stores and find a whole aisle of Valentine cards and another one for candy. It is a powerful thing. These verses make us think of the definition of love. It’s all about God and his son. There is no merit for our love. It’s his love that saves.

I John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.19 We love him, because he first loved us.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?21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

What a passage! It would pay us to linger long and study this out. This is the heart of Christianity because it’s the heart of God. In our efforts, at best our feelings are still imperfect. We’re limited. We say “I love you with all my soul” or “I’ll love you all the way.” We intend to but is it possible? Only through a power higher than we are. With family there is never a time of total agreement or when we get the words exactly right. We’ve all been mad at each other from time to time. Our love is imperfect. Only through God is love perfect. By having the Lord in our heart we still fall out at times, but when we know the Lord we have perfect love. Have we perfectly obeyed him? Do we put him first? I have to sadly say no. Jesus bridges that gap between us and God.

By definition God is love. He loves us but he cannot tolerate sin. We’re broken and in sad shape by ourselves. God sent his son and thereby sent his love. Jesus was sent to us for us to give us the means to be saved and have our sins forgiven. Then we are presentable to God. Jesus obeyed the Father and came to us willingly. He asks that we love and trust him. Saved by faith, we confess that Jesus is the son of God. We are unloveable but God loves us.

When you love someone, you trust them. All our love is possible because of Jesus. Look at the broken homes and upside down relationships people are in. Living together outside of marriage is not love. It shows no commitment. We can love more. We can care more. God is love. If he loves us anyway, we can love others too. Don’t make love conditional. This is why the gospel flourished in the early church centuries. When people were put to death for their faith, they still showed love. When Stephen told the people the truth from God, they hated him enough to stone him. What did he do? He cried for the Lord not to lay that sin to their charge right as he was dying. That’s love!

I can think of a lot of things I need from the Lord. As I ask him, I realize I should love him more. The last five commandments will take care of themselves if the first ones are taken seriously. When we love God as we should, it helps us not do to wrong; it helps us do right. If we really love one another, the Bible says the world will know we’re His disciples. If we love God we will love one another. That’s the great commandment of verse 21. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. If we take the attitude that we have to love someone, then something is wrong.

What is better than God’s love? He’s been so good. Even if he has said “no” to our requests, we know it’s only because he wants what is best for us. Tell the Lord you love him and thank him for loving you.

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