As we come upon the season of love in our culture, centered around Valentine’s Day, let us remind ourselves of what true love is. Scripture tells us that…
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
1 John 4:7-12
We only know what real love is because of the example that God gave us first through the life of Jesus. The love that we display in our lives is merely a reflection of God’s love that has impacted us. What does that love look like in a practical way?
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
The world will only know what real love is when followers of Jesus live it out in their own everyday lives. Our marriages, our friendships, raising our children, looking out for others, these are all opportunities for us to actually define what love is. In our culture we love our wives, we love our children, but we also “love” pizza and “love” our cars. We understand that that “love” is on a different level (at least it is for most), but these things are easy. We Christians are called to love radically, like God does.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
The love that we are called to live in our lives is “perfect.” Complete. Not lacking anything. Whole. All-encompassing. Just like God. Jesus died so that every human being may have an opportunity to gain eternal life through faith and a relationship with him. We are his ambassadors, representing him in all aspects of life. May we do whatever we can to be as much of an example as we can to show the world what REAL LOVE is, reflecting the love that God showed to us first, so that people may see Jesus in us.