Love is one of those words that has been hijacked by our culture today. Many people feel that they are or have or know what love is. The enemy has been strategic in his devaluing campaign. These days even Christians roll their eyes when they see the word.
Yet none of this stops love from being the point. The Bible tells us that God IS love. You want to know God? You have to know love. Paul defines true love for us in I Corinthians 13. Most of us are familiar with this passage. Very few of us remember that this is, not only, love’s standard for us, but also the characteristics of God Himself, since He is love.
Love is patient. Kind. Not envious. Not boastful. Not conceited. Doesn’t act improperly. Not selfish. Slow to anger. Keeps no record of wrongs. Finds no joy in unrighteousness. Rejoices in the Truth. Bears all things. Believes all things. Hopes all things. Endures all things. Never fails.
Before you scroll on and keep reading. Take a moment and return to the list. Do we believe and act as if God is all these things? Do we strive to treat others in this way?
There are two great commandments that Jesus highlighted in His ministry. He even went as far as to say that all the others hang onto these two. If you obey these two, you will automatically be obeying the rest. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus could have said that the greatest commandment was to fear the Lord, but He didn’t, because love is stronger than fear. Many serve the Lord out of fear. Hell, fire, and brimstone terrify us and we are determined to avoid them. Or we think that being a Christian is what makes us a “good” person, so we’re afraid to be wander away from that. We serve God for fear of what would happen if we didn’t.
But Jesus asked for more than that from us. He deserves more than that from us. As a matter of fact, Paul writes to the Galatians that if we try to be justified by keeping the law (fear of punishment) it actually alienates us from Christ. We have fallen from grace if we are not eagerly waiting for righteousness through faith working through love. (Gal 5:4-6).
See for faith to be present, it needs the conduit of love. Fear won’t give you faith in someone. Think about your earthly relationships. How good are they when you love someone? How much do you trust that person you love? How horrible are they when you are stuck in a relationship because you fear someone? How much do you trust that person that you are afraid of? It’s the same with God.
God desperately loves you. The kind of love that a parent has for a child, except much more and much better. He is not willing to give you up or to give up on you. And He is not satisfied with returned service. There is nothing we can do that could pay Him back for the kind of love He has for us. Just like a child can’t pay back a parent, and wouldn’t we cringe if our child tried? We don’t want payment. We don’t want service. We don’t even just want good behavior and obedience. We want returned love. So does God.
What are you saying, Candace? I’m saying that unless you have love in your heart for God...and yes, it’s partly a feeling; not all about feeling, but love always involves feeling...you are missing the point. If what binds your heart to Jesus is not an incredible amazement at how good He is and how much He loves you, you haven’t truly gotten to know Him. I’m not saying fear can’t be a guide into love and sometimes fear of the Lord can protect our wounded hearts until we are ready to love and be loved, but it’s never where it ends. Jesus wants the kind of allegiance that refuses to be torn from Him because He is the love of our life. He wants the kind that would rather die for Him than die without Him. That kind of allegiance requires love.
Once the love of God has penetrated our hearts...once we experience His love and begin to love Him back...it will be so much easier to love our neighbor and to love even our enemies. After all, we don’t deserve God’s love either, yet He freely gives. How can we withhold from others what has saved us? We want others to experience it for themselves. We want ALL people to come to the knowledge of this love and none to perish without it. When love is why we follow Jesus, it is impossible for us to keep Him to ourselves. After all, we know what He loves most is the people. We are why He made all of this.
Don’t settle for a relationship with God based on anything other than love. Jesus died for love. He wants a relationship with you that goes further and deeper in the devotions and allegiances of your heart than any and all combined. Only love can do that. Fear will keep us separated like it did for the Israelites on the mountain where God gave the law. Jesus came so we could all be Moses...loving God so much, experiencing so much of Him, that we need to be closer.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love
The greatest of these is love.