Thursday is Valentine’s Days so this week I want to focus on love; what is it and what kind of love does (or should) a husband and wife share. Today I’ll be looking at what love is. Some people think knowing what love is and what it means is impossible and though I believe that there are different stages and depths of love I do not believe that it is something that can’t be known, experienced, or obtained.
In the Bible we are commanded to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourself, and husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Most importantly, we are commanded to love God. But how can we love if we do not know what love is? Well thankfully, the Bible also defines love. God’s Word shows us the perfect example of love in the Father giving up His Son as a sacrifice to redeem and make atonement for His unfaithful people. Romans 5:8 says that “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I add the emphasis on “still sinners” because it shows that even while we were still outside of God’s will, still not seeking Him, still dead in our sins, that He died for us. How can there be a greater love than that? John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The verse before that Jesus commands His disciples to love each other as He has loved them. So how do they do that? They lay down their life for each other. The “laying down of life” does not necessarily mean an actual ending of life but in Jesus’ case it did; at least for a short time. The message here, though, is that we give of ourselves, that we be selfless, that we consider our lives not about us but about others. Then, of course, we have 1 Corinthians 13 which is known as “the love chapter.”
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.
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.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
On either side of verses 4-8a (in the bold) we see how important love is but in the middle of how important and great it is we find what love is.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not boastful, arrogant, or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way.
Love is not irritable or resentful.
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love hopes all things.
Love endures all things.
Love never ends.
In summation, love is selfless and sacrificial.
Now let’s go back to the greatest act of love – Christ giving up His life on our behalf. He, as a perfect, sinless King, died a shameful death, bearing our sins on the cross, that we might have life in His name. We were dead in our sin, deserving of eternal separation from the Lord, condemned to a life without Him when He reached down from His throne and chose to rescue us from ourselves, to lift the veil from our eyes, to reveal His love, grace, and holiness. He, the epitome of perfection, the definition of holy, chose to love us, dust from the ground. He does not owe us grace or anything good. He owes us nothing. He is not required to save us but He chooses to show us mercy, He extends His grace, and He lavishes us in His love.
So what does this have to do with human love? Well, God is love. He created love and He defined love. Our human love is but a glimpse of God’s divine love. The love shared between friends, spouses, lovers, and family members, love as we know and understand it, is rooted in the beginning existence of love – God Himself.
*Thursday, Valentine’s Day, we’ll look at what I like to call covenantal love, the love that is shared between a husband and a wife.