What is Love?

I John 3:16-18, 4:7-12; 16-23

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

I am sure that you have heard that there are many types of love and that love means different things to different people. I took a very unscientific survey last week and asked my Facebook friends “When you hear the word, “love,” what other words come to your mind? What does “love” mean to you? “ here are some of the answers I got:

  •  “Love is the affirmation of being.”
  • Special
  • Unconditional
  • a choice, a sacrifice, tender,
  • God’s Grace & Family!
  • A choice…the perfect gift…always appropriate…God…healing…feels good.
  • Peace, acceptance, security, comfort
  • Someone/something special/meaningful in your heart
  • Action
  • Care, thoughtfulness, understanding. The look in Derek’s eyes when he looks at me.
  • romantic, forever, not fickle, self-sacrificing not self-serving, about others, not about “self,” more than a feeling.

In the above scripture we also learn that love is of God, a sign of knowing God, and it actually IS God.

But my favorite description of Christ like love comes from one of my college professors with whom I attend church now, who once told me that “Love is a deep desire to promote the well-being of others.” I liked that so much that I wrote it down on a piece of paper and have had it taped to the monitor of my computer for years.

This kind of love is like Christ’s love manifested on the cross. This is love that does something amazing for others.

Love isn’t just a feeling or an emotion, love is action. Something comes from it. It says that we will be known as God-followers as we show the love of God. And how do we show the love of God? Through our actions.

In the Bible, Jesus commands us to love God and love others, and if we are known as the children of God by obeying His commands, then our lives should be showing evidence of our love in action.

  • If you tell your spouse every day that you love them, but all you do is yell at them, or ignore them, you are not loving them.
  • If you tell your children before bed each night that you love them, but you never speak to them kindly, never listen to their stories, never choose to spend time with them, you are not loving them.
  • If you say that you love your friends, but you aren’t doing anything to help them find Jesus, you are not loving them.
  • If you say you love the orphans, widows, homeless, and hungry, but you stay in your warm home, eating your comfort food, holding on to your “stuff,” you are not loving them.

In other words, unless we are doing something active to show love, even to the point of laying down our lives for one another the way that Christ laid down His life for us, we are not loving one another in the way that we have been called to do.

This kind of love loves the unlovable, doesn’t expect anything in return, does self-sacrificing deeds that don’t make sense to the rest of the world.

So much of our culture tells us that if someone loves us we should get what we need from them, when in reality, if we are truly showing the love of Christ, we should be only concerned with what we are giving to those we love. And those we love should be all people of all faiths, of all classes, of all ethnicities, of all orientations. Everyone. Even those Christians that we don’t see eye to eye with.

You don’t have to agree with someone to love them. You don’t have to approve of their choices to love them. But you do have to love them. And show that you love them through your actions.

How evident is your love for Christ? Is it being shown in your actions? In your choices?

When people see you, is it like the song says, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love?”

When I ask these questions of myself, I truly hope that the answer is yes.

I hope that the cheerleaders that I spend hours upon hours coaching are learning something about cheerleading, but I pray that they are also feeling the love of Christ. A love that sacrifices a huge portion of my time between July and October.

I pray that each time our sponsor child has food to eat and goes to school he feels God’s love being shown to him.

I don’t say these things to brag on myself, but I share them as examples of ways that the Lord has shown me how I am effectively showing His love in action. But there are other ways that He shows me that I could be doing more.

I challenge you to ask the Lord today how you are doing in the area of active love and how you could be doing more. Really take the time to pray and listen to His leading.

Because don’t you want to be known as a truly loving Christian? One who follows Christ so closely and emulates Him so well that He is seen in all that you do? Don’t you want to be known as a person who truly shows that their love is a deep desire to promote the well-being of others, just like Christ’s love?

I know I do.

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