Love. A simple four-letter word that holds much power. How are we supposed to love? What are we supposed to love? Are we to love everyone? These questions surrounding love are often thought of but hardly ever answered. In this study, we are going to discover what love is to God and why it is so important in our lives. Let us begin.
First off, what is the definition of love? There could be so many answers to this question but I believe God gives us the answer through Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. This whole chapter is dedicated to the topic of love. Starting in verse 4 of this chapter we receive a detailed description of what love is. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” This is the best definition of love we can get. Paul describes all of these things as love. Notice the very end of his description, he ends it with this: “love never fails”. True love, real love, never fails. There is no doubt, there is no fear, there is no defense in love. 1 John 4:18 states, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Love never ends.
God shows us the greatest act of love through sending us His Son. John 3:16 states that. Jesus also confirms this in John 15:13 when he says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Christ’s sacrifice was the ultimate definition and act of love. How does God call us to love? He calls us to love one another, just as He has loved us. Christ tells us this in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” He has called us to love one another, as He has loved us. There’s the kicker. We have to love as Jesus did. How do we do that? Be willing to lay down our own lives for one another, that’s how much Jesus loved, and that is how we should love.
When asked which commandment is greatest, Jesus replies with an interesting response. His response is recorded in Matthew 22:36-40 and it reads, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor. Both have to do with love. Not only that, but Jesus also says that on these two “love-driven” commands hang the Law and the Prophets. What an amazing thing. This would also make sense if we correspond it to Colossians 3:14, which says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Love binds and combines everything together in perfect balance and harmony.
Next comes the question of ‘Are we supposed to love everyone, even those who do evil?’. The answer is yes. However, we are to hate evil, not the person. Psalm 97:10 says, “O you who love the Lord, hate evil! “ It does not say to hate the evildoer, but to hate evil itself. Romans says we must love one another in Romans 13-8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Owe no one anything, except love. That means we do not owe hate, anger, bitterness, or anything other than love to one another. Why? Because we are commanded to love one another, and that includes everyone.
It is easy to get caught up in loving material things in this world. However, God is very clear that we should not love this world or anything in it. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” Our desires and love should not be on this world or material possessions in this world. Rather we should have our minds on things above. Jesus teaches about this in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In conclusion, we are to love God and one another all the time. Since love never ends, our love should never cease because God’s love never ceases. We must always remember that whatever we do, we do it in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.”