First John 4:8 says, “God is love.” With that simple truth, we see the embodiment of what our Creator wants from us. God wants us to love and provide everything that word means to those around us.
To truly understand love, we have to ask the question, where does love come from? Many people falsely believe love to be our creation, something we define. They go around describing love as something that can exist (in its purest form) between anyone in any circumstance. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. God defined love in Scripture and by doing that, defined a part of who He is.
First John 4:7-11 says:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
That passage describes love as a deep respect for something or someone. It’s more than just infatuation. It’s a prolonged investment in the lives of those you come in contact with. God stands at the forefront of that idea in one of the most famous passages found in Scripture, John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The reverence that must accompany our love of God is equally paralleled by the reverence He has for the sanctity of life, the value of a soul, and the relationship He holds with humanity.
Love, as defined by Scripture also requires obedience. This obedience is wholeheartedly aimed upward to our Creator. Jesus said in John 14:15, “if you love me, keep my commandments.” Truly, there is no simpler form of love than listening, obeying, and respecting God’s commands. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, echoes that statement as he directed the young evangelist to teach Christians. 1:3-5 says:
charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.
Avoiding false doctrine, obeying what was taught, and respecting God’s Word with faithful obedience is the equivalent of loving God with pure, sincere faith.
Love, as defined by Scripture also requires imitation. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then our lives should be a reflection of God at all times. Ephesians 5:1-2 clearly sets the pattern for our lives when it says,
Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
One thing that comes to my mind when I think of love is how God represents it so well. He’s not just the originator of love, He is the living embodiment of it. Each of these passages speaks of agape (unconditional) love that values those things the world devalues. It has a deep concern for what the world overlooks. It is faithful towards those who are unfaithful and in delights in goodness, not evil. Not surprisingly, we read these verses and see it all come together:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
God is love. Don’t forget that truth even though the world seems to try each and every day. Mankind can’t know genuine love without God and we won’t truly provide it to one another unless God is a part of our lives.
All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.