What Is Love?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Faith, Hope, and Love, Part 8

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Chuck McKnight, AiG–U.S., discusses an important aspect of the biblical view of love and shows why we need to love others.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Today’s big question: what is love?

The Bible devotes a great deal of space to the imperative of love. We are commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5), our neighbors (Leviticus 19:18), strangers (Leviticus 19:34), our brothers in Christ (1 Peter 2:17), our spouses (Ephesians 5:33), and we are even told to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

God, who is love (1 John 4:8), considers love to be of utmost importance. Jesus told us that love of God and fellow man comprise the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37–40). We must therefore be sure that we have a right understanding of love.

As with so many words in the English language, love has degraded from its purest meaning to now include a whole range of ideas having little to do with true, biblical, agape love. Most modern definitions of love describe it as a feeling or emotion, but that is not what we see from the Bible.

We are told to love in the same way that God loves us. Let us therefore take a look at what the Bible has to say about how God shows His love.

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NET)
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)

God’s love is sacrificial. It is entirely selfless. His love is given freely and is not based on our own merit. He loved us “even when we were dead in trespasses” (Ephesians 2:5).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

True biblical love is placing the needs of others above your own. It is not a sentiment but a deliberate choice that results in action.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

We may not be called to physically die for someone, but we should be willing. And all of us must die to ourselves in order to serve God and others. We are commanded to present ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Our actions need to reflect that sacrifice of love.

But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17–18)

Today’s big idea: “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

What to pray: thank God for the incredible love He has shown us.


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