What is love? There have been many answers offered over the years, but in our current day the answers have become more and more irreconcilable and distant from any biblical foundation. Should we accept the notion that love is merely a "secondhand emotion" (as Tina Turner sang)? Is true love defined how we want it to be defined and according to our own experiences? Is there a true and biblical definition which we should embrace? The Scriptures do provide a definition and that definition begins with who God is. Verse 7 says that the source of love is God. So if He is the source, true love reflects His character and being. That is, being made in the image of God, we have the capacity to love and be loved. But that love must conform to God's love in order to truly be love. Love is not merely (or primarily) an emotion or feeling, but is properly a reflection of the faithfulness and self-giving that is intrinsic to who God is. Further, the apostle defines love both positively and negatively. First, everyone who lovesâŚknows God. Notice, it does not say, âknows about God.â Knowing God is more than mere head knowledge; it is close fellowship with Him. Second, whoever does not love does not know God. So, the lack of love demonstrates a lack of knowledge and fellowship. And the reason for this is because, "God is Love." The definition of love is inextricably tied up in the nature of God Himself. It is not so much that God is a loving God, true as that is, but that the definition is seated in Godâs unchanging character. Love does not so much define God; God defines love.
The supreme example of such divine love is found in the giving of our Savior, Jesus Christ as verse 9 says. This love was extended to His people, not because we loved Him, but because He loved us. Lest we have the wrong idea, the Apostle begins with the negative. There is nothing in us that would prompt us to love, or that is lovable. Indeed, we were enemies and rebels. Rom. 5:8 - "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God is the source, and performs the primary act, of love. The Father sent His Son to be our propitiation. Godâs wrath had to be satisfied and that satisfaction fell on Christ, the one given to us. We could not turn away the just wrath of God ourselves and God provided what we never could in order to restore us.
This is all beautiful and wonderful theology, but theology without application is useless and the Apostle gives us the divine application. Since God has loved us, we ought to also love one another. If we claim to love the God who no one can see, and yet fail to love the one we can see, we are deceiving ourselves. The invisibility of God reinforces the argument for response on our part. We do not see God directly, but we do see the image of God in our brothers and sisters in Christ and even in those outside the household of faith. So one of the ways we are called upon to demonstrate love to God is to show love to those around us. True biblical love is not just warm and fuzzy feelings; it has an object. This is true whether it is the divine love towards us, or our love to one another. It is not disconnected from our everyday existence. In the case of the divine love toward us, Godâs love is perfected, that is, it finds its terminus, its desired goal and purpose in us. God did not just take a handful of love, scatter it around the universe and we were lucky to have some fall to earth. No, Godâs love is particular, focused, and it has a purpose and that purpose is found in us, in our being reconciled. And your reconciliation to God should not end there. We are loved so that God may be glorified in us in this life in real, tangible ways; in particular with respect to our neighbors.
Tina Turner asked, "What's love got to do with it?" The answer is, love has everything to do with it. But not love as the world defines it, for true love is defined by the attributes of God, and not by Hollywood, MTV, or any such thing, It has everything to do with it because love was shown to us while we were altogether unlovely and unlovable. It was the divine love that brought our Savior to this earth. It has everything to do with it because everyday, and in every way, we reflect, or should reflect, the love of God to us toward those around us.
In the beginning of I Peter, chapter 5, the apostle provides the church with a "how-to" manual for the execution of the office of elder. The Christ-honoring performance of the calling of elder is not left up to the person called, nor to the...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
These verses represent the conclusion of the Apostle Peter's inspired instruction for us in the context of living the pilgrim life. In a sense, he summarizes what he has said before. Repetition is good. He also gives you some final application...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
At the beginning of this short passage, the prophet enlists the creation to sing the praises of God. His exhortation is based squarely upon what has come before in this chapter and is intended to encourage the Lord's people during some tumultuous...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
In today's world, straight talk is increasingly rare - even in the church. But the Scriptures present to us an unflinchingly honest view of life and the world. In this text, the apostle seeks to further prepare God's people for what may happen...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
We prioritize every day with even the most mundane activities. Putting the dishes in the dishwasher before turning the dishwasher on is one example of a mundane task that can work only if your priorities are correct. The principle holds when...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
In I Peter 4, the apostle returns to the subject of preparing us for life in this fallen world. This issue was a great burden on the heart of the apostle and that is reflected in the amount of time and ink he devotes to it. But even though he...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
For those who believe that the Bible means what it says, the truth of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a given. There is no debate on that point. But this does not mean that the truth and fact of the resurrection merely hangs...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Brothers and Sisters, In Mark's account of the crucifixion, the crowds surrounding the cross express the world's view of the events of that day. And as we might expect, those who reject the Savior and hate His message do not perceive the...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
As the inspired apostle continues to exhort us to live in the world distinctly as Christians regardless of persecution, he now encourages us to recognize the will of God and to walk the pilgrim path with a good conscience if we do suffer for the...[ abbreviated | read entire ]